In recent months, we’ve watched with sidelong interest as former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was locked away for 25 years, the longest sentence for political corruption in American history, and former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was convicted of corruption. Now another big city mayor of a majority black city is in danger of having his time in public office end in scandal.
Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray was implicated by federal prosecutors in a campaign scheme which allegedly took place during the run-up to Gray’s 2010 successful bid for D.C. mayor.
Prosecutors used a hearing on Monday to publicly link Gray to an illegal shadow campaign. Feds allege that businessman Jeffrey Thompson, who pleaded guilty to concocting the $670,000 scheme, worked with Gray to raise money illegally and cover it up.
So far four of Gray’s top campaign aides have pleaded guilty to felonies stemming from the shadow campaign.
Mayor Gray, like embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, has denied knowing anything about any shadow campaign, according to CNN:
The probe had clouded much of his lone term. With his eyes set on reelection this year, Gray has adamantly denied having anything to do with Thompson’s activities and repeated that through his campaign manager on Monday.
“I have already responded to that again and again and again and again and again,” Gray told CNN last year, “I didn’t do anything — period.”
“Jeff Thompson has lied and conspired and manipulated elections and politicians and people for years. It is impossible to believe anything he says. His actions prove that he is not to be believed,” Mayor Gray’s campaign manager Chuck Thies said.
“I think the voters in D.C. are smart enough to know that an admitted felon is difficult to believe. And when given the choice to believe Vince Gray or Jeff Thompson, that can be no choice,” he said.
But the convicted felon was risking everything to help Gray win reelection, so his words must carry some weight.
When reporters finally caught up with Mayor Gray, he said “It’s shocking to me. Lies. These are lies.”