Court papers offer inside look at shadow campaign

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Local,DC,Liz Farmer,Alan Blinder

Jeanne Clarke Harris told federal investigators that she had help creating the unreported campaign that helped elect D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and that the effort had started two months before the mayoral primary -- when she was told his campaign needed "financial assistance."

Harris said her company, Belle International, received at least $653,800 to pay for the shadow campaign's expenses from a single, unnamed co-conspirator. The deposits began on July 28, 2010, and ran through Sept. 14 -- primary day.

Court documents in the case reveal:

August 2010

• The secret campaign hires consultants, who hire drivers and canvassers.

• The campaign buys 4,250 yard signs, 5,000 T-shirts and 200 umbrellas for $41,971.26

August/September 2010

• Radios, a loudspeaker system, laptops, food, parking for canvassers: $57,992

September 2010

Magnetic vehicle signs, 120,000 door knockers, 1,500 T-shirts, 6,000 posters, 10,000 lapel stickers, 4,200 signs, handouts, a banner installation: $67.160.42

Worker payroll expenses: $203,084.33

Sept. 14:

Gray wins primary by 10 percentage points

June 2011

• Harris finds out the U.S. attorney and the FBI are investigating Gray's campaign and discusses the probe with the co-conspirator. They agree to cover up the shadow campaign.

June to December 2011

Harris directs the shredding of documents and electronic data related to the secret campaign.

August 2011

• Co-conspirator offers to pay Harris to leave the country for five years to avoid investigators. Harris refuses.

December 2011

• Harris amends her 2010 tax return at the direction of the co-conspirator to include a payment of $566,000 from the co-conspirator's company to Harris' company for phony business/marketing services.

• Dec. 31: Harris gets a check for $161,569 from the co-conspirator to cover her additional tax burden.

January 2012

• Jan. 10: Harris reportedly meets with Gray and tells him about some unreported expenditures. Gray reportedly tells Harris to assist in amending his campaign finance reports.

February 2012

• The co-conspirator offers to pay Harris to leave country for three months; she agrees and arranges to stay in Brazil, but never takes the trip.

March 2012

• Federal agents raid the homes and offices of Harris and Jeffrey Thompson, a major political donor.

July 2012

• Harris pleads guilty to conspiracy and fraud charges.

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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