Political Consultant Pleads Guilty to Lying to the FBI in Connection With Campaign Finance Investigation
A Philadelphia-area political consultant recently pleaded guilty to making a false statement to FBI agents in connection with a campaign finance investigation. Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania made the announcement.
Donald Jones, 62, of Willingboro, New Jersey, was charged with this crime and related offenses in an indictment against him and co-defendant Kenneth Smukler returned by a federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Oct. 24. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Jones admitted to making a false statement to the FBI arising from his participation in a falsification scheme involving unlawful contributions to Jimmie Moore’s 2012 campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination for Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
As described in the plea memorandum, the scheme entailed Moore’s agreement to withdraw from the race in exchange for $90,000 in payments from his opponent’s campaign. The payments exceeded the $2,000 limit on contributions from one campaign to another campaign for primary elections. The payments, moreover, were paid to a company created by Moore’s campaign manager, Carolyn Cavaness, for the sole purpose of receiving the funds and repaying Moore’s campaign debts. According to the plea memorandum, the payments to that company were routed through political consulting companies run by Jones and Smukler to conceal the nature and source of the funds.
As set forth in the plea memorandum, the campaign of Moore’s opponent made a $25,000 payment to D. Jones & Associates, a political consulting company run by Jones. On or about August 30, 2012, Jones caused D. Jones & Associates to send a check to the company created by Cavaness in the amount of $25,000. The payment was disguised as a payment for Cavaness’s consulting services, even though Cavaness performed no work for Jones’ company or the campaign of Moore’s opponent. Jones understood that the purpose of the transfers was to conceal the payment of funds from the opposing campaign to Moore’s campaign in exchange for Moore’s withdrawal. According to the plea memorandum, the campaign of Moore’s opponent additionally made $65,000 in payments to Voter Link Data Systems, a political consulting company run by Smukler, and Smukler’s company subsequently sent Cavaness $65,000 in payments to conceal the nature and source of those funds as well.
According to the plea memorandum, on or about May 5, 2017, Jones made a false statement to FBI agents investigating this matter. When questioned about the $25,000 payment from his company to Cavaness’s company, Jones falsely stated to the agents that Cavaness had performed work for his company and the campaign of Moore’s opponent in exchange. According to the plea memorandum, Jones made this false statement knowingly and willfully and for the purpose of concealing from the FBI the fact that the $25,000 payment was an illegal campaign contribution.
Cavaness pleaded guilty to the charge of causing false statements to the FEC in connection with this matter on July 25. Moore pleaded guilty to the charge of causing false statements to the FEC in connection with this matter on Oct. 2.
The charges against the remaining co-defendant, Smukler, are still pending and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Gibson and Trial Attorney Jonathan Kravis of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.