Another Washington, D.C. political figure has been brought down by the federal investigation into the pay-for-play schemes of former District power player and businessman Jeffrey Thompson.

Kelvin Robinson, a 2010 candidate for at-large and Ward 6 seats on the Council of the District of Columbia, pled guilty this week to a felony charge of conspiring to defraud the city’s Office of Campaign Finance by illegally accepting $33,500 in secret campaign funds from Thompson in excess of established contribution limits.

Currently, the law limits aggregate contributions to a person running for an at-large seat in the primary and general elections to $1,000 and to $500 to campaigns for Ward seats.

“Today, Mr. Robinson admitted to concealing in-kind contributions to his campaign for D.C. Council and filing false reports to the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave said in announcing the plea deal June 3. “Campaign finance laws are in place to ensure fairness in our elections so the people’s interests are realized. Accepting illegal contributions is unacceptable and the FBI remains vigilant to such abuse.”

In accepting the plea agreement, Robinson avoided a maximum penalty of five years in prison and potential financial penalties. Robinson faces a range of one to 12 months in prison, or, possibly, probation. Superior Court Judge Anita Josey-Herring has scheduled sentencing for Aug. 13.

The 53-year-old former candidate is among several politicians implicated in Thompson’s corruption scheme. They include Mayor Vincent Gray, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, and former council member Michael A. Brown, who was sentenced last week on unrelated bribery charges and who admitted to accepting illicit campaign funds from Thompson.

Thompson is the former chairman, chief executive officer, and majority owner of Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio and Associates, a corporation that provided accounting, management, consulting, and tax services. He also is the former chairman, chief executive officer, and owner of D.C. Healthcare Systems Inc., an investment holding and for-profit corporation. Both companies generated millions of dollars in government contracts.

“Today Kelvin Robinson became the second candidate for political office to publicly admit to taking illegal campaign cash from Jeff Thompson,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen. “Although Mr. Robinson conspired to engage in illicit shadow campaign activities with Mr. Thompson in 2010, he should be commended for having the courage to come forward today, save the taxpayer the cost of a trial, and own up to his illegal conduct.”

After a years-long federal investigation into political corruption in D.C., Thompson pled guilty to making illegal contributions to numerous federal and District of Columbia campaigns and agreed to assist in the ongoing investigation.

Five others have also pled guilty to participating in the scheme, including Eugenia C. Harris, the owner of two businesses in the District of Columbia, who allegedly acted as a go-between for Thompson, Robinson and others; Lee A. Calhoun, an executive for Thompson, Cobb; Stanley Straughter, the owner of a business based in Philadelphia; Vernon Hawkins, who was a volunteer advisor in 2010 for a 2010 mayoral campaign; and Troy White, the owner of a marketing company based in New York


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO