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Morning Read: Money From Hollywood Tied to Thompson and D.C. Campaigns

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Embattled D.C. political backer Jeffrey Thompson’s paper trail can be tracked all the way to Los Angeles.

    The Washington Times reports that a Hollywood producer and his company made a donation to D.C. council member Vincent B. Orange the same day that Thompson’s employees gave big credit card donations to Orange.

    The donations from producer Proteus Spann and his business are an example, according to the Times, of the sort of big-money donations “flowing from Hollywood-area ZIP codes to D.C. candidates in ways that align with Mr. Thompson’s interests.”

    Thompson’s offices and home were raided this month by federal authorities investigating apparent campaign finance irregularities among D.C. politicians.

    Records show that Los Angeles donors have given at least $100,000 to candidates since 2008, with many of the biggest donors giving the same amount on the same day as Thompson or his employees, the Washington Times reports.

    The Times says that most of the donors from California wouldn't speak, but Spann said he has an interest in D.C. politics because he once lived there and eventually wants to move back.

    Spann said he knew Thompson but does not have a business relationship with him.

    Read more here.

    * Forget the 2012 elections, the Washington Post is already on to 2016. The Post’s Fix blog has a Sweet 16 presidential bracket where they’ve seeded the top eight Democrats and top eight Republicans they consider to be their party’s leading presidential candidate for 2016.

    (The bracket assumes Obama wins in 2012, leaving both parties with a primary in 2016)

    Both Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell make the top eight for their respective parties. The number one seed for the Democrats is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is the number one seed for the Republicans.

    Click here to see the full bracket and to vote in first round matchups.

    * D.C. Council members were frustrated over Mayor Vincent Gray’s request for $75.9 million in emergency funding.

    The Washington Examiner reports that most council member’s balked at the mayor’s request, saying that he has a pattern of asking for more money to fix District agencies that run into unexpected budget woes throughout the year.

    The request comes in the midst of reports from the mayor's office that the District is facing a $115 million budget shortfall in 2013.

    VIA The Examiner:

    "This occurs over and over again," said Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh, adding, "I implore you, mayor, CFO, if there is some doubt about the figures, don't give us the low-ball ... estimate."

    At the meeting council members said that they would likely only vote to approve funding for the special election in Ward 5 on May 15, which is expected to cost around $300,000.

    Gray requested emergency funding back in January fore more than $ 40 million, according to the Examiner. The council did not take up that request and say there is a slim chance of this latest request passing.

    The Maryland Reporter has an article saying that conflict of interest disclosures are still getting little attention.

    Maryland legislators are required to file a number of ethics forms, disclosing any conflict of interest that may prevent them from objectively considering legislation.

    This gained attention in 2010 after Sen. Ulysses Currie was indicted on bribery charges in 2010 for supporting legislation that favored a grocery that paid him as a consultant.

    This files, however, aren’t easy to obtain and people wanting to view the two relevant forms would have to travel to two different offices in Annapolis.

    VIA Maryland Reporter:

    "As it stands today, it is difficult to say just how closely outside bodies are monitoring the various forms that go before the joint ethics committee. Although those documents may be viewed and photocopied by any member of the public, a quick glance at the visitor log shows only three people have looked at the files this session. Two of the three were reporters. [Sen. Jamie ] Raskin believes this would change if documents were more readily available."

    * The state's largest electric utility Dominion Virginia Power is interested in leasing 113,000 acres off the Virginia coast to develop wind energy, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

    The company filed paperwork Monday with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to formally expressing its interest in offshore wind generation.

    Companies had until Monday to file their papers expressing interest in commercial leasing for wind power off the Virginia coat.

    Chartlottesville-based Apex Offshore Wind was also expected to file a submission on Monday for leasing, the Times-Dispatch reported.

    This could mean a competitive bidding process for the leasing.