D.C. Council member under investigation by campaign finance office

The District’s campaign finance office told D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) Tuesday that it would investigate allegations that he did not fully disclose financial dealings with organizations he ran.

The office, which enforces the city’s financial disclosure laws, is looking at the purchase of an Audi sport-utility vehicle bought by a company affiliated with Thomas and then re-registered in Thomas’s name.

The company, HLT Team Thomas/SwingAway LLC, also collected more than $10,000 in payments from Thomas’s 2006 campaign committee. Furthermore, Thomas said in November that his now-defunct nonprofit organization, Team Thomas, paid for travel he made after he was elected.

Council members are required to file yearly disclosures of gifts and outside income; Thomas declared no such income during the period in question.

The D.C. Republican Committee, which had raised concerns with the office in December, was notified of the pending probe.

The office “determined that an investigation was warranted following an extensive review of the information compiled in this matter,” its executive director, Cecily E. Collier-Montgomery, wrote to the Republicans. Collier-Montgomery also said the office is looking at “whether Mr. Thomas and members of his Council staff used government resources for other than official government business.”

Thomas’s groups are also under investigation by Acting Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan, who said this month that he expected to complete his probe by spring’s end.

Paul Craney, executive director of the D.C. Republicans, hailed the new investigation. “It’s pretty broad, and I’m happy that OCF’s actually pursuing this,” he said. “It is a very serious matter.”

The local GOP had criticized Thomas for his dealings during his reelection campaign last year, accusing him of running his nonprofit group as a “slush fund.” Thomas rejected the accusations, calling them politically motivated.

Thomas said Tuesday that he welcomed the campaign finance probe. “I have no reservation about them looking at what’s been done,” he said, adding that he had provided Nathan “everything that he’s asked for.”

“I’m confident we’ll be all right,” he said.

 
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