Pressure is mounting against Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray as an investigation into a corruption scandal involving his 2010 election campaign intensifies and three members of the D.C. Council called Wednesday for the mayor’s resignation.
Jeanne Clark Harris, 75, a public relations consultant and longtime friend of Gray’s, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court, admitting she was involved in handling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a prominent contractor to help Gray’s campaign unseat incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty.
As part of a plea deal, Harris admitted she helped disburse and hide the funds from contractor Jeffrey Thompson, who had several major contracts with the Fenty administration.
News reports, citing campaign and investigation sources, have said Thompson apparently had switched his support to Gray, but the funds were hidden to give him cover in case Gray’s bid failed so he could continue doing business with the city.
Prosecutors have not said that Gray knew about the shadow campaign but that the effort was coordinated with members of his campaign. Harris said in court Tuesday that Thompson provided the money, but the plan was designed by another, unidentified person.
Harris faces up to 37 months in prison and a fine of as much as $60,000.
At a news conference to announce a green initiative for the city’s alleys on Wednesday, Gray fielded questions about the latest turn in the corruption scandal that has plagued his administration from the beginning.
“It isn’t the campaign that we intended to run,” Gray told reporters. Later, he said that he intended to complete the remainder of his term.
Council member David Catania (I-At Large), however, called for Gray to resign.
“I think the time has come for the mayor to step down,” he told NBC News4 on Wednesday.