On Monday, D.C. businessman Jeffrey Thompson pleaded guilty to two felonies charges linked to illegal campaign contributions made to local and federal candidates since 2006. Federal prosecutors also said that Mayor Vincent Gray knew of a Thompson-orchestrated shadow campaign that brought $653,000 to his 2010 mayoral bid.
On Monday evening, U.S. Attorney for D.C. Ron Machen spoke to the media about Thompson's pleas and the larger investigation into corruption in D.C., one that has been ongoing for three years and could still ensnare various city officials.
On the Investigation and D.C. Corruption: "This investigation has been focused on uncovering the sad truth that has been suppressed for far too long: That D.C. campaigns have been compromised by covert corporate money for years. Jeff Thompson's guilty plea pulls back the curtain to expose widespread corruption. His plea gives the citizens of D.C. an inside look at the underground, off-the-books schemes that have corrupted election after election, year after year in the District."
On Next Steps: "The people of the District of Columbia deserve the truth, and today we begin the process of giving it to them. But today also marks a new today because with the cooperation of Mr. Thompson and the many others who have pled guilty in this inquiry, we will now enter a new phase of this investigation seeking to hold accountable all those who conspired with them to hide the truth from the public. I want to be very clear in our collective message this afternoon: If you participated in backroom, under-the-table deals with Jeff Thompson, I urge you to come forward now and own up to your conduct. I promise you we are not going away."
On Plea Agreement With Thompson: "Under the plea agreement, if Mr. Thompson is not truthful with us in any way, shape or form in any part of our inquiry, we can prosecute him and he can go to jail for two years, we can rip up the agreement and prosecute him to the full extent of the law. It gives him incentives to come forward and be truthful. But you have to understand: It's a balancing act here. We had an opportunity, we have an opportunity to lift up this curtain and discover things about corruption, not only in campaign finance but other parts of this city, that is unprecedented. Given that opportunity, we decided to take it. But under the terms of the deal, if Mr. Thompson is not truthful or if he doesn't fully cooperate fully — this cooperation is going to last for a very a long time. What you learned about today is only the tip of the iceberg, a fraction of the information we're learning, so you can expect that this cooperation is ongoing."
On the Case Against Thompson and Others: "Our duty and our obligation if we bring charges, we have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. We do have that. We corroborate every aspect of our investigation. We wouldn't come forward if we didn't believe the admissions today made by Mr. Thompson. There's a reason that these cases have been pleading guilty. We build these cases up and we present the evidence, and it's usually pretty overwhelming. We're still running down some loose ends."
On the Timing: "We always try to move as quickly as possible, consistent with our obligations to the case. If you look at the plea agreement, it was signed last Friday and we got an accord today. We move quickly, but the overriding concerns is making sure our case is ready to go, and that's what we did today."
On What the Candidates Knew: "There are varying degrees of knowledge among the different candidates. You shouldn't assume that every candidate knew what was going on. We try to say that when it's clear and evident. On the presidential primary... we don't have any indication that the candidate [Hillary Clinton] was personally aware of Mr. Thompson's illicit activities."