D.C. businessman charged with conspiracy, violating fed campaign laws

This photo taken through a courthouse window shows Washington businessman Jeffrey Thompson checked by security as he enters the federal courthouse in Washington, Monday, March 10, 2014. AP

Last Updated Mar 10, 2014 8:40 PM EDT

Washington, D.C. businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson was charged Monday morning with conspiring to violate federal campaign finance laws to help candidates like Hillary Clinton and Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.

Prosecutors filed documents Monday charging Thompson with one federal offense of conspiring to violate federal campaign finance laws and to submit false IRS filings. He was also filed with a District of Columbia offense of conspiring to violate D.C. campaign finance laws.

The document charges that Thompson used his businesses in early 2008 to funnel more than $600,000 in excessive and unreported corporate contributions to pay for campaign services in support of a presidential candidate. Earlier court filings showed that Thompson used that money to help Clinton's 2008 campaign efforts.

Prosecutors also allege that between 2006 and 2012 Thompson illegally funneled at least $250,000 in donations to at least 13 federal candidates and a multi-candidate PAC.

The document filed Monday also accuse Thompson of secretly spending more than $600,000 to back Gray in his 2010 mayoral election. It also alleges Thompson illegally funneled money to 15 different local District of Columbia candidates between 2006 and 2011.

Clinton has not been implicated in Thompson's alleged schemes. Gray, however, knew about an off-the-books "shadow campaign" to support his 2010 bid for the office and personally requested the funds from an influential district businessman, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Gray, who's seeking a second term and faces seven challengers in the district's April 1 Democratic primary, dismissed the allegations as "absolute lies" and said he thought all the fundraising for his campaign was legitimate.

The explosive allegations were revealed in court documents detailing the activities of Jeffrey Thompson, the multimillionaire former owner of a well-connected accounting firm who pleaded guilty Monday to two conspiracy charges.

According to the documents, Gray met Thompson for dinner at the apartment of another alleged conspirator in August 2010 and presented Thompson with a one-page budget of $425,000 needed for get-out-the-vote efforts. Thompson agreed to pay that amount by funneling it through another company, the documents said.

During an earlier meeting, Thompson told Gray he would fund his campaign but that the contributions would not come from him or anyone associated with him, the documents said. Thompson told Gray to say the money came from "Uncle Earl." After the meeting to discuss the shadow campaign, Gray thanked Thompson and referred to him as "uncle," the documents said.

Gray has not been charged with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing in the 2010 campaign.

"With respect to him raising money for my campaign, that I thought was being done in a perfectly legitimate fashion," Gray told WRC-TV. "I've said that from day one, and I maintain that it was, to my knowledge anyway, it was a perfectly legitimate experience. So I maintain these are lies. These are absolute lies."

U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen declined to say whether the mayor would be charged. The investigation is ongoing.

"What you learned about today was really only the tip of the iceberg," he said.

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