Where is the con man at the center of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association fundraising/campaign donations scandals?
The guy on the left is a wanted man in the state of Ohio. He organized and ran a phony nationwide charity, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association. He’s charged with all kinds of felonies, which involved scamming more than $2 million from citizens in that state.
His name (it’s a stolen identity) is “Bobby Thompson.” And in 2009 he was also the second largest individual contributor to Ken Cuccinelli’s successful campaign for Virginia Attorney General. In three donations, “Thompson” ponied up $55,500 for Ken.
Back in 2010, Cuccinelli admitted to The Roanoke Times that in 2009 he’d personally solicited the largest donation in a phone call to “Thompson.” The Florida-based con man responded with a check for $50,000.
After news broke in Florida and later in Virginia that the U.S. Navy Vets was a scam, attorneys general in other states launched investigations. Ohio indicted the con man and a female associate, Blanca Contreras.
She got 5 years in prison and Ohio charges remain pending against “Thompson,” or whatever his name is. He’s nowhere to be found. The last time his former lawyer saw him, he had been drinking. (“Thompson” has a penchant for tequila and Natural Light beer.)
The Veterans Administration has removed the U.S. Navy Vets from its listings of veterans service organizations.
The IRS raided locations in Florida for evidence against Thompson.
The Minnesota Campaign Finance Board fined “Thompson” $21,000 (in abstentia) for illegal contributions to Republicans in that state, including Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Thompson’s own lawyers in Ohio and Washington have quit and denounced him as a scumbag.
So what has Cuccinelli done about this in Virginia, where Thompson scammed the entire Virginia General Assembly into enacting a 2010 law that would make it easier for his phony group to steal money from the commonwealth’s citizens?
The answer, so far, appears to be not much:
- Under pressure (and months after Thompson had vamoosed), Cuccinelli divested his campaign of the $55,500 in contributions from “Bobby Thompson.” He gave the money to legitimate veterans groups.
- This year, the General Assembly repealed “Bobby Thompson’s law” — which would have exempted the U.S. Navy Vets from registering with the state. Cuccinelli supported that repeal. Big whoop. It was an obvious no-brainer.
- The AG has assigned his “top deputy” to investigate.
And that’s pretty much it.
Sixteen months after his Virginia fraud was revealed, Virginia authorities have charged “Thompson” with no crimes, nor have they assessed any other penalties against him, either for campaign finance violations, or defrauding Virginians who donated more than $2 million to the U.S. Navy Vets between 2005-10, or for anything else.
“With regard to possible criminal charges, we cannot comment because they do not fall within our office’s jurisdiction,” said Brian Gottstein, a spokesman for the AG’s office.
“Our office has been investigating potential civil violations, which do fall within our jurisdiction. While we do not comment on the specifics of investigations, we can say that the investigation has been continuing and we are in the process of pursuing civil remedies. We will be able to comment further when that process concludes.”
At least publicly, Cuccinelli seems to have been far more actively investigating the “potential fraud” (which is a crock) of a former University of Virginia climate scientist.
The Attorney General has said he’s purposefully staying out of this. He’s walled himself off from the investigation. There are appearances to maintain. Besides, it’s complicated, he says.
I can understand that last bit. It is a complicated investigation. Thompson bamboozled millions from Virginians. He scammed the entire Virginia General Assembly into passing a law that would help him do that.
Back in May 2010, it took me and another reporter 5 full days to sort out this scandalous mess of flimflamery and thievery.
How much longer is it going to take the Virginia Attorney General?