By Dan Casey and Michael Sluss
The mysterious director of a Navy veterans fundraising group that’s under investigation in three states contributed $67,500 to the 2009 campaigns of key state officials.
Starting July 1, that group can resume soliciting money in Virginia under a state law that Gov. Bob McDonnell signed April 12, despite an unusual last-minute plea from its sponsor, Sen. Patsy Ticer, that he veto it.
Her office requested a veto after Ticer, D-Alexandria, became suspicious of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association and its former director Bobby Thompson.
Ticer had introduced the bill, SB 563, in January and it sailed through the Virginia House and Senate on unanimous votes.
That occurred after Thompson, a Florida-based director of the U.S. Navy Vets, personally contributed large sums to the 2009 campaigns of key Republican state officials, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks donations to state officeholders.
Those donations include $55,500 to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign. That made Thompson’s total contribution the second-largest by an individual to Cuccinelli’s campaign.
He also gave $5,000 to McDonnell’s campaign, and $7,000 divided among the campaign committees of four key Virginia lawmakers.
Thompson gave $1,000 to Ticer — the only Democrat to receive such a contribution — and $2,000 each to House Speaker Bill Howell, R-Stafford County, and Dels. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, and Tom Gear, R-Hampton.
Most of the elected officials deny ever hearing of Thompson before his donations, ever meeting him in person or ever soliciting him for funds. Nor did they know any details about the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, they said.
But that was not the case for Cuccinelli.
Thompson made contributions of $5,000 to Cuccinelli on June 16 and $500 on Aug. 19.
Thompson made a $50,000 contribution Aug. 31 after Cuccinelli spoke to him by phone and asked for another donation.
“I talked to him by phone one time asking for the biggest donation,” Cuccinelli said Friday. He could not recall how much he asked Thompson to give.