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Suspicious Money Orders Linked To Vincent Orange

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Money orders coming from friends and associates of Jeffrey Thompson, who office was raided Friday, have been tied to councilmember Vincent Orange.
Mallory Noe-Payne
Money orders coming from friends and associates of Jeffrey Thompson, who office was raided Friday, have been tied to councilmember Vincent Orange.

Federal authorities raided the offices of Jeffrey Thompson, one of the District's most prolific political donors, on Friday. The raids appear to be connected to an ongoing investigation into city corruption.

Thompson's fundraising prowess in the District is well known, but a review of campaign finance records reveals another connection: a trail of money orders tying Thompson to Council member Vincent Orange and potentially other city leaders.

Over a two-day period last March, Orange received 26 money orders as contributions to his campaign fund, and each one was worth the maximum amount of $1,000. Money orders are relatively rare in campaign finance reports. Rarer still was how many of the donations came from way outside the District, from areas including Georgia and California -- all in a 48-hour period.

The money orders have become fodder for Orange's opponents in his upcoming primary, who have called on Orange to provide more information on what one opponent labeled, "questionable money orders."

A WAMU 88.5 review of these donations finds many of them can be traced back to Thompson and his longtime associate Jeanne Harris. Neither name appears in the money orders. Instead, outside companies and family members from as far away as Georgia are listed as contributors.

For example, records show at least four of the money orders are from relatives of Harris, such as Elzatah Belle, who was her mother. Another four are from firms that appear to be connected, based on the listed address, to Thompson. Attempts to reach Thompson and Harris were not successful. Federal authorities have not said why they raided the offices, and neither has been charged with any wrongdoing.

Orange defended the contributions, noting how many other politicians have received money from Thompson, but when asked if he would make copies of the money orders publicly available, Orange declined to answer as he drove off in his car.

"I'm concentrating on the April 3 election," he said before he slammed the car door.

Orange drove off,  but questions remain -- and not just for the council member. Many on this list of contributors have donated to other politicians, including the campaign of Mayor Vincent Gray, which is under federal investigation.

List of Money Orders To Campaign of Vincent Orange
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