This week, we could we be entering a new phase of the long-running investigation into Mayor Vincent Gray’s 2010 campaign for mayor.
On Thursday accounting firm executive Lee A. Calhoun is due in federal court. His attorney has told reporters Calhoun, a principal of the accounting firm Bazilio Cobb, will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of handling or making fake campaign contributions.
Those contributions, and many others by other people, were actually made by or reimbursed by Jeffrey Thompson, the former head of the firm, over a 10-year period, according to people familiar with the scheme.
The charge against Calhoun specifies contributions Calhoun made to a federal campaign, not the mayor’s 2010 effort.
But Calhoun is the first “insider” of the Thompson business world who may be able to shed light on the entire Thompson operation. (Thompson has been unavailable for comment, and his attorney Brendan Sullivan makes it a practice not to comment on on-going cases.)
Several attorneys familiar with the investigations described the Calhoun plea as a “breakthrough” or “big step” for U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen.
For two years prosecutors have investigated a "shadow campaign" that illegally spent $650,000 to help elect Gray. Three people, including one person who admitted to orchestrating Thompson contributions intended for Gray, already have pleaded guilty in court.
Late Friday, Bazilio Cobb released an unusual statement in which the firm acknowledged its staffers had improperly contributed significant amounts to many campaigns for more than a decade -- amounts directed and/or reimbursed by the firm’s chief executive officer (Thompson.) The firm said it is cooperating with federal authorities and insisted the contribution scheme had no effect on the actual work done by the firm for many clients, including the District government.
Mayor Gray today declined to comment on the investigations, but he told News4 given the legal developments he'd ask city officials to review Bazilio Cobb's work with the District.