He’s Staying, For Now

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  • D.C.’s nonvoting delegate to Congress said it is time for the Mayor Vincent Gray to clear the air concerning the rumors about the corruption investigation of his 2010 election campaign.

    “Vincent Gray is a friend of longstanding who I have always known to have high professional and ethical standards,” Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D) said in a statement Thursday. “However, the criminal conduct by his campaign aides revealed in court is deeply disturbing and goes to the heart of the democratic process. Mayor Gray has an obligation to clear this matter up quickly.”

    Three campaign workers for Gray have pleaded guilty to a range of felony charges from obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, lying to FBI agents and running a shadow campaign in violation of campaign finance laws.

    Gray, who took office in January 2011, has been under fire pretty much from the beginning of his administration after reports soon surfaced that campaign officials engaged in questionable tactics to help him defeat incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty in 2010.

    Sulaimon Brown, a minor candidate who was highly critical of Fenty, said he was paid by Gray’s campaign to undermine the incumbent.

    In May, Thomas W. Gore, assistant treasurer of Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign, pleaded guilty to a felony count of obstruction of justice for shredding a spiral notebook that prosecutors have said contained a record of the payments. He also pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of making a contribution in someone else’s name.

    Later that month, Howard Brooks, 64, a consultant to the Gray campaign’s treasury and financial teams pleaded guilty to providing funds to Brown, destroying evidence and obstructing the investigation into the case and of lying to FBI agents.

    On Tuesday, 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 $650,000 from a prominent contractor in a shadow campaign operation, covering expenses in excess of what was allowed by campaign law.

    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.

    But on Thursday, The Washington Post reported that Gray met with Harris privately in January to discuss the handling of campaign finances and that he was aware then that there had been money spent on his campaign that was not properly reported in violation of campaign finance laws. The Post reported that Harris confirmed the meeting had taken place.

    Three D.C. Council members have called on Gray to resign.    

    “It’s hard to miss $650,000 in a $1.2 million campaign,” Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), who authored major ethics legislation for the Council last year, told a television reporter Wednesday.

    “I have no intentions of resigning,” Gray told reporters Thursday, saying he would continue to focus on doing his job and that on advice of his attorney he could not discuss details of the ongoing federal investigation.

    “I think you are just about as frustrated as I am,” Gray said. “There are lots of things I would like to address at this time.”
     

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