A Florida political consultant who often delivered contribution checks for alleged fake charity scammer Bobby Thompson said no one would have guessed that the U.S. Navy Veterans Association was a scam.
“At the time, everybody thought he was a generous guy, a big donor,” the consultant, Barry Edwards, told the St. Petersburg Times. “It looked like he ran a huge enterprise for veterans.”
The Times yesterday talked to some former associates of “Bobby Thompson,” the fake charity scammer who allegedly used ostensible donations for Navy veterans to fill his pockets and contribute money to Republican political campaigns.Thompson isn’t the man’s real name. His true identity, along with his whereabouts, are unknown.
“It’s numbing. It’s unbelievable that he concocted this whole thing, that people of prominence embraced him the way they did. It’s just stunning,” Edwards said.
Edwards was interviewed last month by the Ohio attorney general’s office, which has indicted Thompson for money laundering.
Investigators also spoke to a political blogger, Peter Schorsch, who said he once saw Thompson stuff thousands of dollars in cash into an envelope to deliver to an unnamed political candidate, and to a college professor, Darryl Jones, who had once served as a legal consultant to the fake charity.
Jones said that Thompson fled Florida at around the time investigators were closing in, flying to New York City. Jones met him there, at a hotel in the financial district.
“He did appear to be worried,” Jones said, noting that Thompson wanted him to counter reports in the Times that suggested his charity was a fake. Jones said he encouraged Thompson to “fight back.”
“I thought his name was Bobby Thompson,” Jones told the Times. “I thought he was some sort of a zealot, a flag waver. I was naive.”
Richard Cordray, the Ohio AG who has been pursuing the Thompson case, was voted out last Tuesday. He will be replaced by Mike DeWine, a Republican who, according to the Times, received $500 from Thompson’s defunct PAC.
DeWine’s campaign could not immediately provide more information on the donation.
The Times also talked to a spokeswoman for Karl Rove, who appears with Thompson in one of his many photos with GOP politicians.
“Karl is not familiar with the group or the individual,” the spokeswoman said. “He knows several individuals named ‘Robert Thompson,’ but doesn’t believe any of them are the same person you’re referring to.”