Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas said he plans to disregard Attorney General Peter Nickles’ Dec. 1 deadline for submitting more information on his Team Thomas fund, saying he has already been in “full compliance” with requests for a full accounting of the nonprofit’s finances.
In a brief interview earlier this week with the AFRO, Thomas adamantly maintained that there was no more information to provide to Nickles’ office. “We provided the information that was requested by the attorney general,” the second-term councilman said, before referring a reporter to his city council website for additional details. “We gave a total ‘indepthness.’ We complied with everything they asked for .”
But Nickles said he believes there is more to Thomas’ doings and is prepared to haul the lawmaker back to court if he doesn’t respond to the second subpoena.
Thomas’ campaign contributions came under scrutiny just prior to the Nov. 2 elections when a judge issued a subpoena at Nickles’ behest for information on Team Thomas’ fundraising activities. Nickles had Thomas appear in U. S. Superior Court on Election Day where he expected him to hand over information related to the organization’s donors and expenditures. During the hearing Nickles contended that Team Thomas was nonexistent, particularly after no documentation was presented to certify its registration with either the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs or the IRS. Thomas, who is being represented by attorney Frederick Cooke, was given until Nov. 23 to submit the documentation to Nickles. However, the information supplied – which accounts for revenues of $216,159 and expenses listed about $10,000 more – is being described by Nickles as skimpy.
In correspondence dated Nov. 24, Nickles informed Thomas that he had reason to believe the councilman has information that would be vital to his continued investigation into matter, which Nickles contends amounts to illegal campaign solicitations. This time around, Nickles wants detailed information dating to 2008 – when most of the nonprofit’s contributions and expenditures occurred – which spells out who donated funds and how much.
”I would say that Harry Thomas is in big trouble,” Nickles told the AFRO, also referencing Thomas’ public claims that Team Thomas had been dormant for the past four years. “So number one, the facts show that his representation of Team Thomas have been inaccurate, and number two, we’re talking about a lot of money and not a couple hundred bucks raised from a cookie sale.”
Nickles said that Thomas did not have authorization from DCRA to solicit as a charitable organization, which is violation of District law. And, he added, “We don’t know at this point what impression or what statements he made in soliciting money, that people who contributed were under the impression that were tax deductible.”
The attorney general alluded to a Comcast-produced video Thomas showed during a Nov. 23 press conference in which he referred to trips taken to Atlanta, Florida and Las Vegas related to sporting goods companies. Thomas said the trips were taken at the expense of the fund. The film also showed highlights from the councilman’s 2007 Team Thomas youth golf tournament, an event that was also sponsored by the cable giant.
“If you solicit money from individuals or companies that have business before you as a member of the City Council, you have to disclose that on your annual report, and Harry Thomas did not disclose anything in the last four years relating to such matters,” Nickles said. “He’s in trouble because of what he’s already conceded under District law, and he may be in greater trouble by refusing to be transparent.”
Nickles said Thomas promised relevant documents related to the case six weeks ago and that up to this point he’s still resisting.