“The U.S. Attorney came to my house. FBI came to my house. I said, ‘What you want?’ ‘Oh, is that what you want? Okay. Come back next week and I’ll have it all laid out for you.’ I’m an attorney; I’m a certified public accountant. I have a masters of law in taxation – Harvard University School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center – didn’t teach no fool. I laid it all out, and you haven’t heard one thing since.”
—Vincent B. Orange, at-large Democratic Council member and D.C. mayoral candidate
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Orange’s tenure on the D.C. Council has been clouded by an unresolved investigation into his past ties to businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson, who played a big role in bankrolling Orange’s 2011 race and is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation.
The council member’s 2011 campaign had ties to the same people implicated in Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s (D) 2010 “shadow campaign” – over $650,000 in expenditures on behalf of the mayor that went unreported to campaign finance authorities.
Orange first acknowledged in June that he had met with federal prosecutors about his past campaigns. “Certainly the U.S. attorney is doing their due diligence,” he said at the time.
Months later, a grand jury subpoena in October that was reviewed by The Washington Post sought records pertaining to Orange and his 2011 campaign.
Thompson, according to two people with knowledge of the arrangement, backed Orange during his 2010 run for council chairman. But the more serious effort came in 2011, the individuals said, when Orange won a special election to fill the at-large seat vacated by Kwame R. Brown (D), who had defeated Orange in the chairman’s race.
Some of the same figures known to have had roles in the Gray shadow campaign helped Orange, according to several individuals with direct knowledge of both campaigns.
At least two Orange workers were interviewed by federal authorities. One reported being shown invoices and receipts last year for political activities that were not listed in the campaign’s public financial disclosures.
Orange previously disclosed that, during the 2011 campaign, he accepted $26,000 in contributions, largely through money orders, that were later connected to Thompson or his associates. Orange has said he considered those donations – some of which featured similar handwriting and sequential serial numbers – “suspicious and questionable” upon closer examination, but he later claimed vindication after a city audit.
Orange and his campaign aides have not been named in court documents.
Mike DeBonis contributed to this story.