Maryland man admits role in D.C. campaign finance scheme

A Maryland man admitted in federal court to giving more than $160,000 in straw political donations at the direction of his former boss — the prolific political donor at the center of a D.C. campaign finance investigation that again appears to be accelerating after another person was charged Thursday.

Lee A. Calhoun, a 65-year-old principal at the accounting firm of Bazilio Cobb Associates, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District to one misdemeanor count of making contributions in the name of another. Between 2002 and 2011, he was directed to donate to more than 30 campaigns and then reimbursed through “bonuses” by the former director of the firm, Jeffrey E. Thompson, according to his attorney.

“It was something that was done at the company,” attorney Edward B. MacMahon Jr. said after Mr. Calhoun entered his guilty plea. “The people that worked there, the people that were friends with Mr. Thompson, were told to do these things, were convinced to do these things and that’s why they did them.”

Indeed, just a short time after the hour-and-a-half-long hearing ended, another former associate of Mr. Thompson was also charged with making straw donations. Stanley Straughter, of Philadelphia, is accused of funneling two donations for U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives races in 2010 through his business, Oak Lane Consulting Group.

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