Former DC Mayor Poised for Comeback With Federal Probe Over

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ex-D.C. mayor Gray’s supporters feel elation, rancor at end of investigation.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vincent Gray spent his only term as Washington’s mayor dogged by allegations of corruption. Then, three weeks before the 2014 Democratic primary — the only local election that matters in what is essentially a one-party town — a prosecutor said in court that Gray knew about an illegal slush fund that aided his 2010 campaign. Gray expressed elation, relief and no small amount of bitterness Wednesday after the District’s top prosecutor said that he was ending the nearly five-year investigation that has clouded D.C. politics.

It brings cold comfort to citizens to learn today that the federal probe into the illegal financing of Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign is over and that no charges will be brought against the former mayor. The allegations, he said, were “the reason that Vince Gray was not reelected.” In March 2014, prosecutors accused Gray (D) of having knowledge of an illegal, secret campaign fund that prosecutors had been investigating for more than two years. Especially since the government already effectively tried Gray in the court of public opinion, and achieved a victory with his defeat in the April 1, 2014 Democratic mayoral primary.

Bowser, who went on to be elected mayor. “Here in the District and around the country, many people have had their faith in our justice system tested,” Gray said in a short statement. “Justice delayed is justice denied, but I cannot change history.” His supporters were more direct. “Clearly all of this changed his life dramatically. It also changed the lives of the people of the District of Columbia because they no longer had his services as mayor,” said Gray’s longtime friend and fraternity brother, Bruce C.

But while resolution of this issue is welcome, the government’s action — and its refusal to be more forthcoming — raises a new set of unsettling questions. Six people who worked on Gray’s 2010 campaign pleaded guilty to felonies as prosecutors tried to build their case during an investigation that spanned nearly five years. And in announcing its decision Wednesday, the office said it had uncovered evidence of more than $3.3 million in illegal contributions spanning a 5-year period. But Gray will not face any criminal charges — a revelation that former Gray staffer Sheila Bunn likened to the lifting of a cloud. “Unfortunately, a cloud has been over the city for far too long,”“He was a great champion for the city,”said Bunn, who ran for the Ward 8 seat on the D.C. Council earlier this year. “And in spite of all the rumors and speculation about what he did and didn’t do, he kept the city going, and kept focused on his work.” In the weeks before Machen appeared to hint that the mayor was the investigation’s next target, Gray had appeared poised to win a second term.

A Washington Post poll in January 2014 found Gray supported by 27 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, giving him a double-digit lead over a crowded field of challengers. Yet Gray was clearly vulnerable, with 57 percent of all Democratic voters saying he was not “honest and trustworthy.” “Our mayoral election was, in effect, decided by a U.S. attorney. Thompson is not credible, why proceed with a plea agreement that gives the once-prominent businessman no more than six months in prison, rather than the seven years he faced for helping to corrupt not just the 2010 election but also previous campaigns? Imagine, the US government stands up in court, alleges that a citizen, identified by name, has knowledge of a conspiracy to commit a federal crime and then neither brings charges nor affords the named citizen an opportunity to confront his accuser or defend himself in a court of law.

Two years later, he was elected to a fourth term as mayor. “If Vince decides to run again, voters can once again judge him based on his record of service,” said Chuck Thies, who managed Gray’s 2014 campaign. “The innuendo and smear campaign led by federal prosecutors has been discredited.” Democratic D.C. Announcement of the probe’s end without additional charges was made via a news release, a marked contrast to the March 2014 news conference detailing Mr. Cheh (D-Ward 3), who in 2012 joined Bowser and another eventual mayoral candidate in calling for Gray’s resignation after the U.S. attorney’s office launched its investigation of his campaign. Cheh said Wednesday that her statements then were “probably naive.” She said she thought then that Gray should run again “with a clean slate” to separate himself from the cloud of allegations surrounding his campaign but that idea may have been overly “optimistic.” Bowser — who cast Gray during the campaign as corrupt and who had seized on the prosecutor’s allegations, at one point telling voters that they might see their mayor indicted — responded to the prosecutor’s decision Wednesday with a terse statement. “The U.S. Cheh called on Gray to resign, saying city voters deserved a “do-over.” But now, she thinks he’d be a welcome addition to the council, the city’s 13-member legislature where he served for six years before becoming mayor, including four years as chairman. “He was an excellent chair of the council, an excellent member of the council,” Cheh said, adding that aside from the questions about how he took office, “he was actually quite a good mayor.

If he returns to office in some fashion or another, I think the District will benefit.” As mayor, Gray, was a detail-oriented technocrat who earned praise for his management of city finances. The city enjoyed low crime, an increasing population and a booming real estate market during his tenure, and Gray maintained the key school reform measures launched under Fenty. Attorney for the District has concluded that justice has been secured with seven convictions in the 2010 Gray mayoral campaign and a dozen in total,” Bowser said. “It is not my job to question his actions but to continue to do the job that the residents elected me to do: expand opportunity to more D.C. residents. However, the succession of Gray campaign aides who pleaded guilty, along with criminal convictions against three council members for unrelated crimes fueled perceptions that the local government was hopelessly corrupt even as the city thrived.

However, their differences are rooted more in personality than politics: Both are mainstream Democrats with liberal views on social issues and ties to the business community. Phillips declined requests for interviews) is the explanation that the Justice Department policy “provides that no prosecution should be initiated against any person unless the government believes that the person probably will be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury . . . and that the jury’s guilty verdict probably will be sustained .” Adding to the murk is Mr.

We hope prosecutors explain why, if these defendants have been truthful and cooperative and deserve reduced sentences, additional charges against those who allegedly benefited were not brought.

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