Court Unseals Ruling|on D.C. Campaign Probe

     (CN) – The D.C. Circuit unsealed a ruling allowing prosecutors to review millions of pages of records seized from a businessman under investigation in a criminal probe of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s 2010 campaign.
     D.C. businessman Jeffery E. Thompson is the subject of a grand jury investigation of Gray’s 2010 campaign, which Thompson allegedly financed under the table.
     Thompson’s donations came under heightened scrutiny when former associate Jeanne Clarke Harris pleaded guilty to helping orchestrate the 2010 shadow campaign, according to the Washington Post.
     “Several people familiar with the investigation said that Thompson was the ‘co-conspirator’ named in court filings who funded the secret, $653,000 effort,” the Post reported.
     On March 2, the government seized more than 60 boxes of documents along with computers, hard drives, cell phones and other devices containing electronic records. The items seized contained more than 23 million pages of records.
     Thompson argued that some of the files fell outside the scope of the warrant and should be returned. He also challenged the government’s proposed protocol for screening the validly seized documents.
     U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled for the government, and the federal appeals court upheld that decision in a March ruling unsealed last week.
     The D.C. Circuit noted that the government “has already made almost all of [Thompson’s] property available … and has expressed a willingness to return at least copies of any documents it retains.” (Original emphasis.)
     Citing Thompson’s “preoccupation with disclosure rather than return,” the court said his motion was not based solely on the return of his property – a requirement for jurisdiction.
     Instead, Thompson appeared more concerned about the “unlawful revelation of … private information,” the three-judge panel wrote.
     Though the D.C. Circuit removed all references to Thompson, Lamberth’s ruling made it clear that he was the subject of the case, according to the Post.
     The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press had urged the court to release a redacted version of the D.C. Circuit’s ruling, since the underlying opinion had already been reported by various media.

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