Troy White pleads guilty for presidential campaign scheme
WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that a New York marketing executive received more than $600,000 in illicit funds from a Washington businessman to do unsolicited campaign work for a 2008 presidential candidate, identified by a campaign lawyer as Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Troy White pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor Wednesday for failing to file tax returns reflecting the amount that his company, Wytehouse Marketing Inc., was paid. But court documents outlined an elaborate scheme in which White allegedly worked with Washington businessman Jeffrey Thompson to help a presidential candidate during several Democratic primaries in the winter and spring of 2008.
While the candidate was not identified in court documents, an attorney for Clinton's 2008 presidential bid confirmed that the case involved her campaign.
Thompson and his network of donors were major contributors to Clinton, and White's website highlights the work his company did for Hillary Clinton and the Bill Clinton Foundation.
White had discussions about working for the campaign in an official capacity but was turned down, the documents show.
"Hillary Clinton for President has cooperated fully in the matter involving Troy White," Lyn Utrecht, a lawyer for her 2008 campaign, said in an email Wednesday. "As the court document filed in this matter clearly states, the Committee turned down Mr. White's services. The Committee will not have any further comment in an ongoing investigation."
After White's efforts to join the campaign were unsuccessful, a campaign official introduced White to a businessman matching Thompson's description, who agreed to pay White to do the same work he had offered to do for the campaign, according to prosecutors. The businessman ultimately funneled $608,750 to Wytehouse through a company owned by a close Thompson associate, the documents show.
Although he is not identified by the court documents in the White case, two people familiar with the investigation said the unidentified executive is Thompson, the Jamaican-born former owner of a politically connected Washington accounting firm. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the person's identity.
The money paid for "street teams" that worked to increase Clinton's visibility in urban areas ahead of several primaries, starting with the Texas primary and caucuses in March 2008. Clinton narrowly defeated then-Sen. Barack Obama in the Texas primary, and Obama won the caucuses.
Texas was considered a critical state for Clinton during her lengthy battle with Obama for the Democratic nomination.
According to the court documents, the campaign official "provided White with confidential internal information ... regarding the itinerary and schedule for a high-profile individual who would be campaigning in Texas." White sent workers to those events to show support and distribute campaign materials, the documents show.
Thompson is also the subject of a grand jury investigation, according to court documents. His lawyer has repeatedly declined to comment and did not return a message Wednesday.
Three former Thompson associates have admitted in court to making more than $300,000 in straw contributions on his behalf to federal and District of Columbia candidates. One of those is Eugenia "Jeanne" Clarke Harris, the owner of Belle International Inc., the company named in court documents as having paid White.
According to a database of Thompson-affiliated donors compiled by The Associated Press, Thompson and more than 50 of his associates - including employees, relatives, business associates and friends - gave more than $100,000 to Clinton's 2008 campaign.
The scheme to fund White's campaign activities is similar to what Thompson is alleged to have used to help Vincent Gray get elected as District of Columbia mayor in 2010. Harris pleaded guilty to funneling $653,000 through her companies, including Belle International, into Gray's campaign. Prosecutors described the effort as a "shadow campaign" that tainted Gray's Democratic primary victory over then-mayor Adrian Fenty.
White and his attorney, Ross Nabatoff, declined to comment after the hearing Wednesday afternoon. White, 48, faces a maximum of one year in prison for the misdemeanor conviction but is likely to receive less time under federal guidelines. He agreed to cooperate in the ongoing investigation, and his sentence could be reduced for substantial cooperation.