A judge sentenced the architect of an illegal, all-cash “shadow campaign” Monday to three months in prison for violating campaign finance laws in the 2010 mayoral election of Vincent Gray.
Jeffrey Thompson, who alleges Gray knew about the illegal cash campaign, pleaded guilty to the campaign corruption in 2014 and cooperated with investigators. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly delivered the unexpected sentence, which exceeded the requests of prosecutors who asked only for six months of home confinement, reports WJLA.Jail sentences are--quite properly--rare in campaign finance prosecutions, but this was a large operation designed to hide campaign money from required disclosure:
Thompson used unreported campaign contributions to run a roughly $800,000 all-cash operation to get out the vote for Gray’s mayoral campaign. Several of Gray’s campaign staffers pleaded guilty to participating in the misused contributions scheme, also known as the “shadow campaign.” The former mayor was never charged. Gray, who lost the mayoral race to Muriel Bowser in 2015 due to the scandal, maintained his innocence throughout the investigation.
Thompson claimed in court last year Gray knew all about the “shadow campaign,” actively budgeting out the best way to spend an alleged $425,000 in cash on his voting effort. Thompson, who Gray admitted calling by his alias “Uncle Earl,” also claims he funneled $40,000 to a close friend of Gray’s for home improvements. Gray repeatedly rebukes such claims, saying Thompson is trying to smear him.This is the type of corrupt activity that campaign finance laws are designed to identify and punish. Campaign finance laws should not, as liberals and Democrats advocate, be focused on political speech by candidates, campaigns, and outside organizations.