If you haven't read the Washington Post story published Wednesday about an alleged link between a D.C. businessman at the center of a corruption probe and a secret effort to boost Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign for president, you should. It's the kind of story with the potential to reverberate in city, state and national politics.
The report, from Ann E. Marimow and Philip Rucker, describes a complex situation with many moving parts and different players. But don't worry, we've got you covered. Below, we give you everything you need to know:
Start at the beginning. What's the news here?
The news is that Jeffrey E. Thompson, a D.C. businessman at the center of a corruption probe, allegedly paid New York marketing executive Troy White more than $600,000 to hire "street teams" to help boost Clinton's campaign for the Democratic nomination. The alleged expenditures were never disclosed to the Federal Election Commission, even though the law requires that they be revealed.
You said Thompson is at the center of a corruption probe. What's his deal?
Thompson immigrated from Jamaica in the 1970s, co-founded an accounting firm in the early 1980s, and over the years became on of the most influential political players in the District. (Thompson even described himself as the "governor" of D.C.) In 2010, he allegedly funded a "shadow campaign" to get Vincent Gray elected mayor of D.C. that spent $650,000, and was never reported.
Here's a handy timeline of Thompson's life, dating back to 1979. The Post's Nikita Stewart explains more in this video:
Sounds like something out of "The Wire." Now what's this about helping Clinton?
This is where Troy White comes in. The 48-year old runs a firm called Wytehouse Marketing, which provides -- you guessed it! -- marketing services, in and outside of politics. He pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor tax charge, admitting that had he reported his taxes properly, they would have reflected the alleged $608,000+ Thompson paid him to fund an effort to help Clinton in at least four states. The effort was undertaken independently of the Clinton campaign. Here's White's "statement of offense" document:
Did the Clinton campaign know anything about all this?
"I’m absolutely certain he had nothing to do with any of us," Garry Mauro, chairman of Clinton’s Texas campaign, told The Post about White. "I was at the headquarters almost every day, I traveled the state, and I never heard of this guy."
So in a nutshell, they are saying no. But here's where it gets interesting: Court documents show that White reached out to the Clinton campaign and pitched his services, offering "street teams" to distribute stickers, signs and other promotional material. The campaign passed. "Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to use the street teams," Guy Cecil, then Clinton's national political and field director, told White, according to documents and people close to the case. Cecil is now the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
How are White and Thompson said to have connected?
Minyon Moore helped, according to court documents and people with knowledge of the case. A longtime Clinton ally (and also an ally of Terry McAuliffe, now a candidate for governor of Virginia) and a senior adviser on the 2008 campaign with a focus on African American outreach, Moore allegedly helped connect Thompson to White. Prosecutors say White kept in touch with Moore, who currently works at Washington-based Dewey Square Group. Here's what Marimow and Rucker wrote:
According to prosecutors, White maintained contact with Moore, who arranged for Clinton’s Texas campaign office to provide White’s “street team workers” with campaign-prepared materials — such as bumper stickers and yard signs. Moore also gave White “confidential internal information” about the campaign’s itinerary, according to the court filing.
“The paid street team workers and canvassers then were directed to attend these campaign events to show support for [Clinton] and disseminate and distribute [Clinton's] prepared materials,” according to the document signed by White.
Does Thompson have any connection to Clinton-world?
Thompson has donated to both Bill and Hillary Clinton over the years, and he even received a shout-out from the then-president in 1997. And he used to date Alexis Herman, who served as Bill Clinton's labor secretary.
Where were Thompson/White allegedly trying to boost Clinton?
Texas, Indiana, North Carolina, and at least one other state. Clinton won Indiana, and then-Sen. Barack Obama won North Carolina. Clinton won the Texas primary, but Obama won the caucuses, notching more delegates from the state.
You mentioned Dewey Square Group, where Moore works. What do they do?
Founded in Boston in 1993, the company is a public affairs firm with six offices around the country. Former Clinton aides on staff include Maria Cardona and Jill Alper.
DSG told The Post that Moore has been “fully cooperating” with the federal investigation and that "The facts make clear that she was entirely unaware of any inappropriate activities and at all times conducted herself, as she always has, not only in full compliance with the law but in accordance with the highest ethical and professional standards."
So what are the biggest questions moving forward?
At least three come to mind:
* How will this affect Thompson's standing? He hasn't been charged with anything yet.
* Who else was involved in the alleged effort to boost Clinton and will any new names surface?
* What is the full extent of the alleged interaction between Moore and White? Will we get a more detailed accounting?