Major GOP Donor Scammed Millions With Phony Veterans Group, Authorities Say


Dozens of politicians, nearly all of them Republicans, initially accepted money from Thompson, or from a political action committee he started called NAVPAC. He routed more donations to candidates by sending money orders and cashier's checks in the names of allegedly fictitious donors. Most officials have since returned the money or donated it to genuine charitable groups. But few would agree to talk about the lapses that allowed an alleged con man so much access.

Boehner brushed past an ABC News reporter Wednesday when asked about the photo he took with Thompson. His spokesman, Michael Steel, said only: "The congressman didn't know this guy was a fraud."

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A spokesman for Rove emailed a statement. "Karl does not know this individual. He knows several individuals named 'Robert Thompson' but none of them are the same as the person in this photo. Anyone who would use the cause of our military veterans to conduct fraud deserves the full scrutiny of the law."

Michele Bachmann Received Donations After Scam Exposed

Some of the politicians continued to take donations even after irregularities with the charity were first exposed in March in detailed reports by the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R.-Minnesota, accepted contributions totaling $14,800 in April and May, according to records compiled by the Ohio Attorney General's Office.

"Once the Congresswoman learned of the allegations against Mr. Thompson she promptly gave his donation to a local charity," her spokesman Sergio Gor told ABC News. "Congresswoman Bachmann receives hundreds of thousands of donations each year and takes thousands of pictures with individuals; she has not and does have any connection to Mr. Thompson."

"We firmly believe that Mr. Thompson should be held accountable for his unlawful actions," Gor added.

Other political figures declined to comment on the case, including McCain and Bush.

Cordray, a Democrat who will leave office at the end of this year, said he considers it critical that the public be alerted to the "elaborate sham" that he believes was operating in at least 30 states.

"Nationally it appears to be tens of millions of dollars," he said. "It appears they took a lot of people for a ride. And we want to call him to account."

Cordray's successor will be Republican Mike DeWine, a former U.S. Senator who in 2006 received $500 from NAVPAC. DeWine told ABC News that, while he has yet to receive a formal briefing on the case, that donation will in no way slow down the efforts to bring the man posing as Bobby Thompson to justice.

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"This is something we want to stay after," DeWine said. "I have said during the campaign, we will go after corruption no matter where we find it. You go after corruption, you go after criminals, you don't worry about what party they're from. If this is true, it's disgusting and reprehensible and should be severely punished. Just a horrible, horrible thing."

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