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D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is tapping a former city administrator and school board to help lead a scandal-plagued D.C. agency. Robert Bobb is slated to join the board at the Children & Youth Investment Trust, the agency that former Council member Harry Thomas used to embezzle city funds.
But city records show Bobb has connections to another scandal in D.C.: the campaign finance investigation into major political donor Jeffrey Thompson.
It's hard these days to find any D.C. politician who hasn't received a campaign contribution from Thompson or his network of donors, and Bobb is no exception. When Bobb was running for the D.C. school board in 2006, he received more donations from Thompson than most candidates -- more than two dozen Thompson-linked donations, in fact, according to city records.
Bobb's 2006 campaign appears to be one of the first on record to show the full fundraising prowess of Thompson and his network of companies, relatives, employees, and other associates.
And campaign finance records also show that Bobb received a handful of large money orders from Thompson-linked donors, including at least one name that appeared on the list of suspicious money orders that Council member Vincent Orange received during his at-large campaign last year.
Reached by phone Tuesday night, Bobb said his 2006 campaign was above-board and that an accountant was in charge of the bookkeeping. Bobb didn't know offhand how much Thompson's network donated, but said he's sure the $50,000 he personally contributed was a lot more than Thompson donated.
Money orders are a legal form of campaign contributions and neither Thompson nor his associates have been charged with any wrongdoing.
Bobb left D.C. four years ago and later took over Detroit's struggling school system. Last year, the Detroit Free-Press questioned some of the contracts and perks awarded during Bobb's tenure, including a $600,000 contract to Jeffrey Thompson's accounting firm, Thompson Cobb Bazillio and Associates.
Bobb defended his record in Detroit, saying he beefed up the city's inspector general's office. He said he was very tough in combating waste, fraud and abuse in Detroit, and he promised to do same in D.C.
Correction: The original version of this article misstated that Robert Bobb was brought on to lead the CYITC. To date, he has only joined the Board. In addition, the original photo caption for this article misstated who is reponsible for appointing Bobb to the board. The D.C. Mayor appoints CYITC board members.Jeffrey Thompson-tied campaign contributions to Robert Bobb