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tv   Q A  CSPAN  December 24, 2013 7:00pm-8:01pm EST

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recent front-page profile of washington, d.c. businessman jeffrey thompson. thompson"of jeffrey -- >> nikita stewart, as a reporter for the washington post, on july piece, wrote a huge frontpage, on a man named jeffrey thompson. why? in the news.n he is a local businessman at the center of a major federal investigation, and no one really knew who he was. so i basically told my editor i want to write the definitive profile of jeffrey thompson. when people want to know about him, i want them to refer back to this article. hopefully icon pushed that -- i accomplished that. >> what we want to know about him? >> right now, he is the center of d.c. politics and some folks say he is at the center of d.c.
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politics basically falling apart. for years, behind-the-scenes, he had been giving to candidates. he had several contracts coming huge contracts with the city, one worth $322 million a year. no one really knew who he was until things came to light in 2011 over problems with the current mayor vincent c gray's campaign for mayor in 2010. here, and i do, you see we have one former city council member in prison, one who had a plea and did not have to go to prison but had to pay money who was a city council member, michael brown, the son of ron brown the former head of the committee, and we have marion barry who was in and out of prison and all of that stuff. is this a more corrupt town than any other? >> i personally don't think so. i have been covering politics for a long time. i actually covered politics in
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new jersey before i came to the district of columbia. so i don't think any more corrupt than any other place. but the interesting thing about d.c., remember, it is not a state. it is a city and of the council and the mayor still have functions that are very much like both city and state. so i think there's more room for scrutinizing them and it is very noticeable when you have three out of 13 councilmembers getting into some very serious legal trouble in the span of two years. >> how did you go about covering jeffrey thompson? >> that began, i used to cover the mayor. the mayor's office. i covered the 2010 mayoral campaign. i was assigned to cover the day- fenty campaign,
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the current mayor at the time. he was the main opponent of vincent gray, who was chairman of the time. so you know, covering the normal campaign. i was interested in watching fenty's downfall. everyone saw it coming. that was my job. grayly after the -- after a jobffice, i heard from and who would also run for mayor , it turned out he had a job in the administration, which was odd. next thing you knew, he was fired. then he was calling me. i -- he said, do you want to talk? i said, sure. you know, he disclosed some serious corruption about being paid during the campaign to disparage fenty on the campaign trail. one thing led to another.
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there is a big federal investigation, and the federal investigators actually learned that there was something much bigger going on, which they campaign,""shadow and that was a kind of parallel operation to the gray campaign that was done in secret that was not reported. it was $650,000. which is nothing to sneeze at. allegedly, jeffrey thompson was the sole funder. >> you have to keep using the word allegedly. why is that? >> he has not been indicted. he has not been charged. there have been several people around him who have been charged. but this is a very long investigation. his attorney is brendan sullivan, who is a very good attorney, and he is known for being able to get delays and he actually delayed the prosecutors' ability to look at some evidence they had retrieved
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from some raids on jeffrey thompson's homes and offices more than a year ago. >> to remind some of you listening, brendan sullivan beforented ollie north the committee in congress and said, "what am i, a potted plant?" he also represented ted stevens, and 10 steve -- ted stevens was convicted, but the attorney general through that conviction out. he is a $1000 an hour lawyer in this town. >> yes, he is and jeffrey thompson can afford it. i think we are in for the long haul with this. known, ifllivan is you want to charge my client, we will go to trial. >> you say in your article that vincent gray's attorney is bob bennett. >> yes. yet another big-time attorney.
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the interesting thing about bennett is that vincent gray's daughter is a very good attorney and she is kind of like a, i guess, one could call her a protége of bennett. so there is a relationship there that he has had with fencing great. when gray ran into this issue, he retained mr. bennett. >> let's catch everybody up on this. i know this is a d.c. thing. but i if this book before show some video, how much does the american taxpayer have to do with the district attorney of columbia? if you are far away from here and say, why are they talking about the district of columbia? >> this is the nation's capital. you should also be very interested, because despite the fact that you see the city and think of it as separate from the
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federal, and capitol hill, this is a city that is still governed by congress. all american taxpayers have a say in that. that is something that the district of columbia has struggled with. mayor vincent gray has made that one of his main platforms, in his administration, to finally get the city some representation on the hill. >> are they currently balancing their budget? >> the city is balancing its budget. >> vincent gray used to be the chairman of the city council. how many members on the city council? >> 13. >> who elect them? >> the city folks. >> how many people live in this district? 600,000 seems to be the magic number. it continues to go up.
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>> adrian fendi was here -- adrian fenty was here for an interview in 2006. >> i have a philosophy about politics. is to be the ceo of the district of columbia, to be the political leader, and to make sure all my employees are great public servants. i think that when corruption happens, it happens because people lose sight of what they are in it for, whether they are sometimes following the money, sometimes power. i am going to stay focused. >> has he ever been accused of being corrupt? >> yes. actually. during the 2010 campaign, mayor vincent gray took full advantage of some stories i had written about the fenty administration,
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possibly favoring some friends of adrian fancy. if you lived here, you saw television ads that presented it that way. vincent gray's slogan was, character, integrity, leadership. that character and integrity , those were direct shots at the fenty administration at the time, accused of being corrupt. >> that he never was indicted? >> no, there were never any investigations other than a d.c. council investigation which ironically was led by folks who ended up going to jail for other things, other council members you mentioned at the beginning. >> kwame round and might -- brown and michael brown. >> let's show vincent gray, who beat adrian fenty, in what year? >> 2010 >> how badly? >> it was handy, several points.
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the polls showed he was going to lose, but he still tried to fight at the end. >> adrian fendi was 36 years old when he took over as mayor. >> he was the youngest mayor in d.c. history. vincent gray really presented kind of a, he was the exact opposite. he was friendlier, much older, and folks got behind him. >> let's watch vincent gray. you have to listen to the reporter asking him questions. he was already mayor when this was recorded. >> this was not the campaign we intended to run tom. ,i have said to many people that i got into this for the right reasons. i probably could have stayed on as council chair or done nothing further. i got out there to be involved because i love the district of
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columbia. i am a native washingtonian. i am a product of the schools of this area. a product in a most every way of the district of columbia. not to be redundant, but i got into this for the right reasons. >> if you were not yourself, looking at this from the outside, what would you think? would you think that your administration is corrupt? >> i think it is unfair to say "our administration." i have distinguished between the campaign and the administration, and if there is something about our administration that you want to put your finger on, i would invite you to do that. but i think that is an unfair characterization. >> typically, talking about the situation -- >> what does that have to do with campaign versus governing? >> you are the mayor. >> absolutely. >> i am looking at this mayor. think? you >> lots of people probably have that question. i know who i i get up everyday am. and look in the mirror, and see
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someone that i respect. >> corrupt. this has been going on for a couple of years. where are we in whatever investigation you have been covering? >> we have seen five people indicted already. two aides to the campaign pleaded guilty. admitted to making those .ayments to sue lamon brown >> who ran against gray and criticized him, but was being paid supposedly by the gray people? >> he was definitely being paid by them. there is proof. >> so he is a phony candidate? >> you couldn't call him a phony candidate. he got into the race and then it was presented to him, i should just get paid for beating up on fenty. that is basically what happened. we have seen three other people plead guilty to the -- one person pleaded guilty to her
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role in the shadow campaign. the other two people have affiliations with thompson's companies. they admitted that they were -- had been straw donors. what the federal investigators , thatd in this probe jeffrey thompson was allegedly -- he had this entire network of contributors that he tapped to give to campaigns. but allegedly, it was really just his money. we are not talking about $2000. we are talking about thousands and thousands of dollars. we are not talking about the great campaign. we are talking about federal elections. we are talking about elections outside the city. he had a long reach.
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>> you mention 300 18 $2 million or whatever it was. jeffrey thompson has what kind of the business? he had to businesses. he had an accounting firm. the other business was a managed care firm where residents who cannot afford or do not qualify for medicaid or medicare use -- they are in the city program to get health care. he managed the care for those residents. we're talking about 100,000 customers. thousandare only 600 people in the district, and 100,000 need this care because they don't qualify for medicare or medicaid. how much money to jeffrey thompson get from the district of columbia and all the friends that he helped fund for his company? chartered contracts alone was 322 million dollars.
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>> one time? >> per year. by the end, it was up to 322 million dollars. we are talking about a company he bought in 2000 for $4 million. at that time, the company made about $26 million a year. really is a person who built the company up. it was throughe corrupt means, but other folks say he was very savvy, very smart, he built this company up. one of the things i have found in reporting that story is that this was basically just a circle of money. he would get the money from the city, give to his charities, family, friends, and then somehow that money would circle back around to the candidates who would become councilmembers and they would approve his contract. very interesting. >> in your article, there is a
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lot of photography. here is a picture. like mother anton -- mother and son. here's a picture of dorothy thompson. who was she? she is deceased now here he >> she was a civil rights and women's rights icon. if you ask anyone, they would tell you that dorothy height was just an incredible woman. and jeffrey thompson met her when he was a young accountant. she became a client. after he began making money and making a lot of money, he saw her organization, the national council of negro women, of which she was president for decades, he saw the organization as a group he really wanted to help and give to. what is astounding is that the national council of negro women, the organization had the only black-owned building on
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pennsylvania avenue. and jeffrey thompson was instrumental in helping to buy the building. >> you tell the story in their. >> i was able to tell that story, the article took a lot of research, and i was able to look up a lot of things. manyly, c-span records so that are -- events important to the public. you recorded her morrill -- memorial service, and jeffrey thompson tells the story at her memorial service. >> we will run a clip. again, he has not been charged with anything. has there been a grand jury? >> there is a federal grand jury. i should say that one of the reasons we feel so comfortable writing about him is that in , theyourt documents
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described an unnamed and unindicted co-conspirator, and it is a perfect description of jeffrey thompson. >> did you try asking if he is the one? did you talk to the lawyer? [laughter] >> of course, i talked to brendan sullivan. he is known for not talking to the media and not allowing his clients to talk to the media until a case is completed. he sticks with that script. and i respect that. >> here is jeffrey thompson at the funeral. [video clip] >> when he came to buy the contract on the building, i was in a meeting with my partners at my accounting firm and i received an urgent call from dr. height.
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she insisted on speaking with me. she said, mr. thompson, you must come now. now. i dropped everything, got in a cab and went to see her. when i walked into her office, it was like the winds were out of her sail because a certain gentleman on whose shoulders declined to achieve success and for whom she had opened many doors there to walk away from this mission. so what will you do? we must get this deal completed, she said. i said, give me a few minutes to reflect. before i left her office, she said, mr. thompson, see what you can do. >> have you ever met him? >> i have met jeffrey thompson. >> did you talk to him ever about all of this? >> i certainly tried. way before i started researching
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this article, i ran into him -- i was leaving a social event timeout. there are many social events in d.c. i actually said oh, mr. thompson, i am nikita stewart. i've been calling you. you never returned any of my calls. you think we can talk now? i remember he said, no. >> how this he? >> 58 years old. >> where is he from? >> jamaica, in the parish of saint elizabeth's. the unitedhe get to states? >> he moved here with his father and other siblings. before he moved here, his mother came here. he comes from a large family. siblings had passed away. she was very upset according to several family members, and she needed to get away. she decided to come to d.c. to
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stay with relatives. and then the rest of her family followed her a few years later. >> how old was he when he came to the united states? >> he was only 19 is old. -- years old. he had an education in jamaica. but nothing that would really transfer to the united states. so he had to basically start from scratch here. he earned a ged and then went to the university of the district of columbia. >> who was the first person he met in politics that paid off and made connections, and he went on to have a relationship with a politician? >> there are several people he met along the way. i don't know if i can pinpoint the first person. he had a relationship with alexis herman, who ended up being secretary of labor under president clinton. that was a big connection for him, because it opened up a
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world in the white house. he attended the state dinner for nelson mandela. >> were they dating? >> yes, they were. so he ran in those circles. and then he was very helpful to delegate eleanor holmes norton, who we all see on cold air -- colbert, how the rest of the country sees her. here we see her as our nonvoting delegate who was always trying to get d.c. the right to vote. in 1990, when she was first running for that seat, she ran into some tax trouble and turned to jeffrey thompson for some advice. that is outlined in donna brazil's autobiography. it is interesting to see how this man, who everyone, when the story broke two years ago,
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people were like, who is jeffrey thompson? i've never heard of him. especially a lot of the local mainstream media. but i can remember seeing his photo in a lot of the black weeklies basically documenting his charities. so i knew this jeffrey thompson person. i knew he had city contracts. but i don't think people understood what a behind-the- scenes player he was, starting from years ago, both locally and in the federal government. >> i want to run a 2.5-minute piece that we found on "the washington post" website are -- of you. what is the origin? that is new. >> you know, the story used a lot of new technology that we are trying at "the washington post," and maybe technologies -- technology is the wrong word. but if you go to our website and you read my story in a different
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template than what you see with , they were like, let's try this video, similar to something "frontline" was doing. we did it, and i think it turned out very nice. >> is this the first television you have done? >> no. >> how much television have you done? >> just local television. in 2008, i was assigned to the inauguration of president obama. at the time, president-elect obama. so i made a few television appearances than because i was one of the main reporters covering the inauguration. >> so people would know, this was four pages, which in a newspaper devoted to this on sunday, july 14, how can people find it want to read your whole story? >> go to and write in jeffrey thompson or you can look for investigation --
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there is a bookmark menu at the top of the page. that the storyn will appear. >> this will recap everything we have talked about. we will look at this video and it is about 2.5 minutes. [video clip] >> three years ago, mayor adrian fenty and council chairman vincent gray faced each other in one of the most contentious and he let -- expensive elections in recent history. fenty raised $5 million to hold on to his seat. vincent gray raised only $1.2 million, but he won the public over. he beat fenty. but shortly after great took brown,in 2011, sulaimon who also had run for mayor, said he was paid and promised a job in return for disparaging fenty
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during the elections. investigators discovered much of brown's story was true. they uncovered an even bigger secret -- the shadow campaign. more than $653,000 was spent and never reported on gray's behalf. allegedly, just one man was behind that money. jeffrey thompson. a jamaican immigrant who moved to the united states in the 1970's, thompson earned his ged, went to college and built a small empire. he cofounded an accounting firm and owned d.c. charter's health plan. which earned $322 million a year in revenues, the largest city contracts held by a single vendor. he rubbed elbows with the likes of oprah winfrey and dorothy height. he became known as a top fundraiser for local candidates,
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but federal investigators allege that donor contributions bundled by thomson actually came from him or his firm. to date, five people have pleaded guilty. one of gray's campaign aides pleaded guilty to destroying evidence that showed payments to sulaimon brown. another pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about payments. of gray and thompson pleaded guilty for campaign violations and admitted to a role in the shadow campaign. two men with the accounting firm pleaded guilty to misdemeanor campaign violations, saying they were straw donors with thomson's money and involved with their relatives in the scam. >> where was that actually taped? >> that was in the wilson building, which is city hall.
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they don't call it city hall. they call it the wilson building. the wilson building is a beautiful facility, and we decided it would be a good setting for the story. >> how long did it take you to do? >> two hours. [laughter] >> go back to the mayor. as he sits in his job right now, hece 2011, all of 2012, has been charged with anything? >> he has not been charged and no evidence has emerged in any court documents saying that the mayor was aware at all of the payments to brown or that he had any awareness of the shadow campaign. >> i think i read in your piece that the shadow campaign offices were next are two vincent gray for mayor offices. >> yes. >> have you seen them physically side-by-side yourself?
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>> yes. >> explain to somebody not involved in this way shadow campaign is, how it works, and why jeffrey thompson is in this mix. >> it takes a lot to explain, but i will do my best. basically, you have a campaign going on, a regular campaign you see. then you had another set of folks who were in an office right next to the vincent gray campaign. during the campaign, there is so much going on. you have several workers complaining, several of social workers complaining about the other workers because they felt they were getting paid more and there was a lot of confusion as to who is paying them, etc. later not until a year that folks started putting things together when federal investigators began asking questions. they realized, wait a minute, the folks who were next door, we can't find any record of them in the campaign-finance records we see. so how did those folks get paid,
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and who was in charge of them? and that is how it went back to allegedly jeffrey thompson. >> how did he allegedly raises -- raise this money, the $650,000 that was in the shadow campaign? >> it was his, according to court documents that describe him, but don't name him. >> in the district of columbia, has ever been a republican mayor? >> no. not in home rule. >> has there ever been a white mayor? >> no. >> in this mix of the investigation, the u.s. attorney's black. >> yes, he is. >> can you tell us anything about him? >> ron machen is tough. he takes his time. the rest of the public may know -- i don'tth this want to call it a phone tapping situation with reporters.
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he is a little in that mix. but locally, he has made corruption, especially government corruption and corruption in politics, that is something that he is trying to eliminate, not only in d.c., but in other jurisdictions. >> you covered some of this in your piece. how many people has he indicted processicted in this that has been going on since 2011? >> in this particular investigation, there have been five people. but if you expand it into looking into the other council members, michael brown, kwame brown, no relation, harry thomas junior, you have several agencies he has looked at locally.
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you have federal agencies he has looked at. the numbers are actually much greater. i could not even sit here and begin to tell you how many people have been convicted or have pleaded guilty under his tenure. the number is quite high. and he is very serious about this public corruption. >> michael brown is the son of -- was the secretary of commerce. he died in an airplane crash some years ago. what did michael brown do that got him indicted? >> it is an awful situation because it was a bribery case. and it was a sting operation. otherccurred after council members were already being scrutinized for corruption. machen's office set up a sting
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operation were guys who were pretending to be contractors said, can you help us get this contract? now we have video of him accepting cash. around here, it is a redskins bug. the dollar bills were all balled up and placed into the mug. it is a sad situation. what is interesting about that case, in his guilty plea, even tough he was only pleading the sting operation, he admits that years ago, in 2007, he from jeffrey000 thompson. and disguised it as a personal loan to his campaign. thatou know, it is obvious
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the federal investigators were sending some kind of message in michael brown's plea, because that is not even anything he pleaded guilty to. they threw that in to let folks know they know what has been going on all those years. >> what do you suspect is going to happen with jeffrey thompson? will he be indicted? >> yes. >> what is the timetable? >> i wish i could tell you. but i can't. had anotherry, we story written by my colleague. i was a contributor. she covers the u.s. attorney's office. jeffrey thompson has signed a waiver. he has waived his rights to the statute of limitations and this -- and many of these, you are
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with five years or six years. so now the federal investigators have more time to investigate. and so, there is no telling how long this will last. our believe is that the thinking of the u.s. attorney's office is that once they charge jeffrey thompson, they have to be ready to go to trial. at any moment. and brendan sullivan is, like, bring it on. they have to be ready. apparently, you don't want to mess with brendan sullivan. >> how is a guy like vincent gray paying for bob bennett? >> the mayor makes $200,000 a year. vincent gray was a career -- he used to work at the department of health for the city. he was the director of the department of health under mayor sherman pratt many years ago. i am sure he has some money saved up. i wish i could answer to you how
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much bob bennett charges per hour. i don't have that answer. too far fromot brendan sullivan, $1000 an hour. >> do you suspect that vincent gray will be indicted, the mayor? >> i don't think i have any comment on that. i am really not sure. you asked me one day and i think federal investigators are going to do something. you asked me the next day, i think maybe not. one of those situations where, in my story, i point to meeting that he and jeffrey thompson had where one of jeffrey thompson's friends told me one thing about the meeting, and a friend of the mayor says another thing happened. it is going to be a he-said she- said situation. i don't know what kind of information the u.s. attorney's office has that mayor gray was
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aware that any of this was happening on his behalf area >> another "washington post" person, a columnist who has been here. i want to throw him into the mix , because he has been unrelenting, saturday after here's colbert cain. saturday. [video clip] >> i admire the debate that took place where brown just lambasted fenty with some very scurrilous comments. i gave fenty the opportunity to respond. he did not respond. time that know at the brown was being paid by the gray campaign to behave that way. i saw him do the same thing the next night at another debate. >> do you think all these people thought they could get away with this? >> yes. >> and where they? where are the pressure points? >> i was saying this to years ago.
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many of the things that folks are being charged with, i believe, based on my reporting, many of these things were going on in the past. but technology caught up with people. i was able to build the sulaimon story. i told him, can i just see your cell phone records? i just documented all the times he had received calls from members of gray's campaign. they firstee when started talking to him, the days of the debates, those kinds of things. >> remind people what sulaimon's in all- his role was this. >> he was a minor mayoral candidate. no one was paying attention. but at the debate he was very lively, and his main thing the debate was he would be up on fenty. a slogan -- go gray, go
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brown, go any color, just don't go fenty. he became this character. at one point fenty was very shaken by the things sulaimon brown was saying about him. what i have found, things caught up with people. today you can easily look at campaign finance records and see the patterns, because you can set up your own database. it is very easy to do that. 10 years ago or 15 years ago, you would have to go through campaign finance reports by hand to figure out the patterns. to see things. with jeffrey thompson, the washington city paper has done a very good job of kind of documenting all the money from the network. not that all of that money was corrupt. but you can definitely see the pattern of how many employees were giving and how many of his
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relatives were given. and showing that they were basically bundled on the same date. >> can you explain to the outside world how marion barry continues to be in public office? >> he is very charming. >> he has been in mayor four times, in prison six months. caught up in a cocaine arrest at the viking hotel? >> the vista. >> excuse me. since, he has not paid his taxes and was picked up for speeding. he had trouble where he was making sure that one of his girlfriends got some money from the government. how does that just keep on rolling? >> marion barry knows the law. had -- wentwhen i ahead and told the d.c. council, now that it has an ethics board that has come about just because of everything that has occurred in the last two years, there is an ethics board that reviews
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conflicts of interest of council members, and he told the ethics board hey, there are these , contractors. i took some money from them can -- and some money from them. it was a gift. it did not influence what i have done, but i thought i should report it. right now the council is trying to figure out what they will do about marion barry and the situation. >> they have already voted 12-0 to take his committees away from him? >> yes. >> what can they do to him now? >> they could refer the matter to the u.s. attorney's office. the u.s. attorney's office is very busy right now. >> he actually reported? >> yes. he reported it himself. that is one of the, i think, ifion barry, i don't know you call it missed geek or he is clever or whatever. yes, this is what i did, i did it.
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you are not going to uncover something. he will be upfront with you. he will show you what the deal is. >> is he 78? >> yes. >> did somebody give him a kidney? >> yes. in my story, i explained all the connections jeffrey thompson has had through the years. berry's son marion a job at one time. contract to the woman who had given marion barry a kidney. barry has had a lot of health problems through the years, but he is still here. he is very much, seems that he will be here much longer. >> further explain how jeffrey thompson did his work, how he contributed to all these campaigns. how did he work? you call him the governor the district. >> yes, the governor of the
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district of columbia. a name he apparently gave himself. he called himself "the governor." i think you are trying to get me to start earlier with mayor anthony williams. >> two mayors, three mayors ago. >> yes. he ran the city for eight years. he was actually a friend of jeffrey thompson. and jeffrey thompson, through , wasn barry, who was mayor on the search committee for a chief financial officer of the city and he tapped his friend anthony williams for the job. >> we have a picture of anthony williams on the screen. , you know, basically you asked how he worked. he was very hands-on. if he was going to give to you, he wanted to see you, he wanted to shake your hand. he wasn't just going to write a
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check and let that be the end of it. he also wanted to show you that he could raise a great deal of the money for you. so one of the things that i wrote about in my story is, when he would have these fundraisers in his office, he would get checks from each employee and he would look at the checks. and if they were sizable, he would place them in his jacket pocket. and if they were not, he would place them or give them to his secretary. and he liked to give the candidates the large checks and -- as bundles to show what a great fundraiser he was. >> i want to show you some politics of all of this. we found this on the rush limbaugh website. just to show you what is talked about in the conservative radio environment to the outside world.
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let's watch this and get your comments. [video clip] >> this is natural, folks. i will answer the question for you. why are all d.c. mayors corrupt? that is the question. why are all washington, d.c. -- it's not my proposition. cnn did this. cnn did the story. cnn asking the question -- why are all washington mayors corrupt? let me answer that by answering another question asked by asking another question. what party do they come from? they are all democrats. what kind of democrats are they? they are all liberal democrats. you want to know why every washington mayor is corrupt? it's because they are all liberal democrats. that's what they do. yeah, marion barry is just said the b-i-itch set me up. that was the cocaine staying in the hotel room. >> what do you say about that?
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>> i would say it is unfair to call all d.c. mayors corrupt. i also believe that there is corruption everywhere. it is in every city, in every party. i am personally registered as an independent. i registered independent when i was 18 years old. people inieve that power often do things, either because they are tempted or sometimes they compromise their values or their ideals in an effort to, you know, get what they really need. what i mean by that is, you know, it happens all the time. we see it on the hill. you say you believe this one thing and this is the bill you are pushing. all of a sudden, somebody throws this rider onto the bill and you
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really believe in that, but you -- don't believe in that, but you really need to get this bill passed. and to me, that is a form of corruption at a very low level if we wanted to find corruption i don't even know how we are going to define corruption. but i think that it is unfair to say that all liberal democrats are corrupt. and i say this is a person who covered politics in kentucky, in new york, new jersey. i have seen corruption in all of the parties, and i have seen it among all ethnicities. not that that is what he was saying. but i have. >> where are you from? >> i am mercy from fort hood, -- originally from fort hood, texas. i am a military brat. my family spent some time at fort clayton in panama. and my parents met in fort campbell in kentucky and that is where i went to high school and college. >> what college? >> i went to bowling green,
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-- western kentucky university in bowling green, kentucky. the home of rand paul. i will be there very soon. >> how did you get into this business? >> my brother had a paper route when i was a kid and that was back in the days when the papers would be dropped off at the house at 5 a.m. and i would help my brother fold them and then put the rubber bands on them. we were not that fancy. we didn't have the bags. so that is what i did in texas. and i wasn't very good at folding. i was a little busy reading. but my brother wasn't paying me anyway. but i have always said i'm glad my brother didn't do lawns, and instead wanted to be the paperboy, because otherwise i might be in the lawnmowing business. >> what did you do after college?
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>> my first job was at the courier-journal in louisville, kentucky. i covered everything from courts to cops to city hall and then i the newspapers in white plains, new york. i covered politics in westchester county. then i went to "the star-ledger" in new jersey where i covered newark city hall. i was fortunate to see the rise of cory booker. >> how did you get to "the post" and how long have you been there? >> a funny story i like to tell. when i was in high school, i was very much a journalism nerd and i went to a camp at northwestern university. i met several campers and one camper i always stayed in touch with. he had gotten a job at "the washington post that"
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they said, do you know anyone we should look at? he said, yes nikita stewart. , so "the post" called me and i ended up at the washington post. >> when? >> that was in 2004. >> i only know another nikita and his name is khrushchev. where did that name come from? in 1971 orhe died thereabouts. i was born in 1972. my mother liked the name, and here i am. >> back to "the post," when did jeffrey thompson story start for you? when did they say we are going to do a piece? as you know, nobody gets four pages in the newspaper. >> i joined the investigative team in december and i wrote a memo of things i wanted to pursue. at the time, they decided i should pursue a story i was working on -- i wanted to reveal
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-- i will not reveal it in case i actually finish it. i was focused on this agency for a few months. the other story i wanted to pursue was jeffrey thomas -- thompson. i wanted to pursue the jeffrey thompson story first. i wrote the memo and they said, we think you should pursue this agency first. so i did. but then the jeffrey thompson situation started heating up. we knew some things would be happening. the time to do this jeffrey thompson profile is now. so i approached my editor about it and he was great and he said, yes, that is what you should do. and that is what i did. i think we came out with a great story. i was grateful that "the post" gave me the time to finish the story. right now, the news industry is
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going through a transition. this transition has lasted for about 10 years now. it's tough. i know we have limited resources. but what i presented going to jamaica, at first, i don't know. then my editor said, you should go to jamaica. >> and why? >> i wanted to go to to jamaica because we were following the money and just to really dig deep into who jeffrey thompson really is. and i think we were able to show that. >> you have a picture here of barry thompson. he is looking down will looks like a lonely road and whose who is barry thompson -- who is barry thompson? >> one of jeffrey thompson's brothers. we actually traveled to jamaica with michael dufile, a wonderful photographer.
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he has won a number of pulitzers. and he happens to be from jamaica. he is from kingston. so it was great to have someone who was from jamaica to be at my side during that time. jeffrey thompson's town, we are talking about a pretty rural area with dirt roads and driving there, my goodness. luckily "the post" was good enough to give us a driver. >> i want to show photographs of this area in jamaica. you can see the young kids on the bicycle. there are several other pictures. that is barry thompson. how old is he? barry thompson is 72. >> that is a bar scene. >> yes.
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there are lots of bars in jamaica. basically every other shop is a bar. that is a beautiful beach where jeffrey thompson would go and swim as a child. >> we had the head of police here at couple months ago. we asked her about the corruption thing. look how she handled this question. [video clip] >> it is very distracting, especially for the police department, when you are a police officer and there are elected officials -- and i look back at the days when marion was going through his criminal issues -- it's embarrassing. because this is the guy who signs your paycheck, essentially . i try, when these things are going on, to keep the police department focused. we don't have time to get sucked
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into politics. we have to stay focused. the metropolitan police department is a shining star in the city and we have integrity. we have an incredible invitation for customer service and responsiveness, and we do a great job fighting crime. don't get distracted by that crap. stay focused on what you have to do. >> what did you think it was she said? >> i like the way she uses "crap." [laughter] she does a great job at staying above the politics in the city. she could easily have been sucked into the fenty administration drama. she is one of the reasons that some folks were upset with fenty at the very beginning. fenty came into office when the city was still in majority black. you had a lot of black leaders behind the scenes pushing for things. there are some people in the city who believe the police
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chief should be black, or at least they did years ago, before her. and adrian fenty tapped her. and, you know, crime has gone down. to differ witheg how successful she has really been. >> the union? >> yes. but you know, you live here. probablythe city is much safer than it was 10 years ago. >> it went from 400 murders to 100. >> and that happened during cathy lanier's tenure. and when mayor gray took office, he capped cathy lanier on. canink that shows how she kind of just stick to the police department. whatever is going on over in
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city hall, we are not going to get involved with it. >> one more time, we have to tell folks how to see your article. >> go to and go to the governor of d.c. >> that was a july 14, 2013 story. any other articles you are working on right now? >> nothing really other than lots of follow-ups to the jeffrey thompson story. and of course, when he is indicted, as we expect, i will be part of that coverage as well. >> who was the maddest at you at -- and "the post" after this article was published? >> that is a tough one. this article was something that
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i had never experienced before. i received some the calls, even -- so many calls, even from people who have criticized me since i started covering this beat or since covering the city and 2006 who were, like, this was an incredibly fair article. that is all i ever ask people. i just want to be fair and i want to be accurate. and i hope i achieved that. oneknow, i only received really hateful e-mail. it was basically from someone who felt that was tearing down a black man. let's remember that there is still a lot of racial tension in the city and that is how that person felt. but i tried to show people are complicated and i think politicians, like these special
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beings and the people who love politicians are these special beings, to me, they are almost not human. all i want to do is kind of humanize them to show people that there is good and bad in everyone and sometimes good people do bad things and sometimes bad people can do some good things that you may not have heard about. so that is what i strive to show in all of my writing and reporting. >> nikita stewart, we are out of time and we thank you very much for joining us. [captioning performed bynational captioning institute] [captions copyright nationalcable satellite corp. 2013] ♪ >> for a dvd copy of this 1-877-
8:00 pm at q-and- they are also available as c- span podcasts. >> coming up tonight on c-span, our year in review examines the senate's nuclear option. the change in the senate filibuster rules. first lady's looks at eleanor roosevelt. and the afghanistan challenges that they face at home. 2013 was the year in which filibuster rules was finally put to a vote. the so-called nuclear option of changing rules was threatened in july and put to a vote in november.


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