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Broken Elections

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D.C. Corruption Probe Spreads To Hillary Clinton's 2008 Campaign

September 15th 2013

Hilary Clinton

New York City businessman Troy White today pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington, D.C., to one misdemeanor count of failing to file corporate tax returns that showed $608,750 paid for services performed to clandestinely support Democrat Hillary Clinton during her unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign. Clinton was not identified in court records, but Lyn Utrecht, a lawyer for the Clinton's 2008 campaign, later released a statement confirming the fact.

White's firm, Wytehouse Marketing, Inc., which specializes in "marketing in urban areas through the use of 'street teams,'" was utilized starting in February 2008, ahead of the Texas two-step primary and caucus in which Clinton and Barack Obama battled for the Democratic nomination.

Court documents show that White's firm was ultimately paid not by the Clinton campaign, but rather by an unnamed D.C. businessman who used two companies to bankroll payments to White through Belle International, Inc., a D.C.-based firm owned by Jeanne Clarke Harris. Harris pleaded guilty last year on corruption charges related to an alleged "shadow campaign" that helped elect Democratic D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.

The unnamed businessman is widely believed to be Jeffrey Thompson, a staple in D.C. local politics and a close associate of Harris. Thompson ran an accounting firm that federal prosecutors have called an “assembly line for illegal campaign contributions.” He has not been charged with any crime but is under federal investigation for allegedly steering hundreds of thousands of dollars into the off-the-books campaign to elect Gray.

Thompson was a strong Clinton supporter during the primary contest. He and his employees gave nearly $50,000 to support Clinton's presidential campaign, including $40,300 in November 2007 alone. That month, Clinton attended an intimate fundraiser at the company’s headquarters in downtown D.C., as the Center for Public Integrity previously reported. Attendees at that event described Thompson and Clinton as being "pals," with Thompson being "all in for her."

White had originally offered his services to the Clinton campaign in January, but was rebuked.

"Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to use the street teams," a campaign official wrote in an email to White, according to court documents.

A few days later, an unnamed individual affliated with the campaign instructed the aide to "[find] some money" to pay for White's services, according to court records. That unnamed individual later put White in contact with the D.C. businessman widely believed to be Thompson.

Two unidentified Texans also helped White "assemble and organize street teams" that were paid to distribute campaign materials such as posters, lawn sings, pamphlets and stickers and attend campaign events that featured "a high-profile individual who would be campaigning in Texas in support of" Clinton.

Clinton ultimately received more votes in the Texas primary than Obama, who, for his part, garnered more support than Clinton during the caucuses — thus winning more of the state's delegates.

Clinton and Obama continued to campaign against each other through early June, when Obama secured enough delegates to win the party's presidential nomination. Wytehouse Marketing was paid for services in several other states during the long primary fight, court records indicate.

The clients section of Wytehouse Marketing's website also includes the likes of Obama, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as the Clinton Foundation.

Michael Becker and Alan Suderman write for the Center for Public Integrity, from where this article is reprinted.

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