Businessman Pleads Guilty to Violating Campaign Finance Law, Admits Disguising Source of More Than $150,000 in Contributions
Activities Took Place Over Nine-Year Period, Involved Federal and Local Campaigns
|U.S. Attorney’s Office June 20, 2013|
WASHINGTON—Lee A. Calhoun, an executive for a Washington, D.C.-based company, pled guilty today to a federal charge stemming from a scheme in which he and others helped disguise the actual source of more than $150,000 in campaign contributions.
The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr.; Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Thomas J. Kelly, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
Calhoun, 65, of Silver Spring, Maryland, pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of knowingly and willfully permitting the name of one or more persons to be used to make campaign contributions in the name of another person and aiding and abetting campaign contributions to be made in the name of another. The Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly scheduled a status hearing for September 26, 2013. The misdemeanor charge carries a statutory maximum of one year of imprisonment and financial penalties. As part of the plea agreement, Calhoun agreed to cooperate in the continuing investigation.
According to a statement of offense signed by the defendant as well as the government, during the relevant time period of the offense, Calhoun worked for a company in the District of Columbia that provided accounting, management consulting, and tax services. He served as a principal in the management and consulting division since 2000.
The statement of offense refers to the company as “Company A.” It also refers to “Executive A” as the company’s chairman, chief executive officer, and majority owner.
Beginning as early as June 2002 and continuing until in or about June 2011, according to the statement of offense, Calhoun used his name and the names of his relatives to disguise campaign contributions made by Executive A and Company A to federal, District of Columbia, and other political campaign committees and political action committees.
Calhoun admitted that he knowingly and willfully permitted both his and others’ names to be used to conceal the true source of these contributions at the direction of Executive A and others acting at the behest of Executive A. Calhoun knew that he would be reimbursed for the contributions, directly and indirectly by Executive A and Company A.
“Today’s guilty plea reveals how a D.C. accounting firm was converted into an assembly line for illegal campaign contributions,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “For a decade, the firm and its CEO made illegal campaign contributions through straw donors to an array of federal and D.C. politicians. The firm used a special accounting system to keep track of the thousands and thousands of dollars it was plowing into political campaigns. This prosecution demonstrates the depth of our commitment to investigate and uproot criminal schemes intended to hide illegal campaign contributions—schemes that if left unchecked can threaten the very integrity of our democratic process.”
“Today, Mr. Calhoun admitted his role in evading campaign finance laws by purposefully hiding the true source of more than $150,000 provided to political campaigns,” said Assistant Director in Charge Parlave. “Together with our law enforcement partners, the FBI will continue to work to ensure that all those who participate in corrupt election schemes that elude fair electoral processes are held accountable for their actions.”
During the calendar years 2002 through 2011, according to the statement of offense, Calhoun caused at least $79,400 in federal political contributions from Executive A and Company A to be made in his name and the names of his relatives, including contributions to political action committees and the campaign committees of candidates who were running for president of the United States, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives.
Through this scheme, Executive A, Company A, Calhoun, and others caused various campaigns and political action committees to file reports with the Federal Election Commission that did not reveal the true source of the unlawful campaign contributions.
Additionally, according to the statement of offense, during calendar years 2002 through 2011, Calhoun caused at least $76,600 in District of Columbia political contributions from Executive A and Company A to be made in his name and the names of his relatives. These included contributions to the campaign committees of candidates running for mayor and the council of the District of Columbia, among other elected offices.
According to the statement of offense, Calhoun also made political contributions in his name and the names of family members for local and state political candidates and campaigns in other states, localities, and U.S. territories for which Executive A caused Company A to reimburse him.
Also according to the statement of offense, Calhoun’s illegal campaign contribution reimbursements were inaccurately referred to in Company A’s financial records as “advances” or “advances on bonus.”
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director in Charge Parlave, and Special Agent in Charge Kelly commended those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and IRS-CI.
They also expressed appreciation to those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan W. Haray, Ellen Chubin Epstein, Lionel André, Jonathan Hooks, and Ted L. Radway; former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Chris Dobbie and Paralegal Specialists Anne Riopelle, Shanna Hays, Krishawn Graham, Lenisse Edloe, Nicole Wattelet, Corinne Laxman, and Angela Lawrence. Finally, they thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Loyaan A. Egal and Ephraim (Fry) Wernick, who are prosecuting the case.