Corruption Scandal Hangs Over Former DC Mayor In Vicious Council Race

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray looks poised to take back his old Council seat in an ugly campaign, despite lingering questions from a new document dump revealing details of the scandal that derailed his political ambitions.

His opponent, incumbent Yvette Alexander for the District’s Ward 7 Council seat, attacked Gray this week over the new documents related to his 2010 mayoral campaign, when an all-cash “shadow campaign” was found in violation of campaign finance law. In response, Gray’s spokesman referred to Alexander as an inept suicide bomber, and later picked an intense fight with Alexander on Twitter.

“She’s not going to take him out,” Gray spokesman Chuck Thies told Washington City Paper, referring to the email offensive from Alexander. “She’s one of those inept suicide bombers.”

Alexander sent two email blasts ripping Gray’s campaign after the release of about 1,000 pages of court documents from the scandal investigation last Friday, although Gray has not been charged in connection with the scandal. Jeff Thompson, the man at the center of the fraud used unreported campaign contributions to run a roughly $800,000 all cash operation to get out the vote for Gray’s mayoral campaign. (RELATED: Embattled Former DC Mayor Announces Council Run)

Gray is popular in Ward 7 and poses a serious threat to Alexander. But he’ll have to shake off the shadow of the scandal if he’s to take the first step toward reclaiming power from Mayor Muriel Bowser, who ousted him in the mayoral primary in 2014.

Thompson claimed in court last year Gray knew all about the “shadow campaign,” actively budgeting out the best way to spend an alleged $425,000 in cash on his get out the vote effort. Thompson, who Gray admitted calling by his alias “Uncle Earl,” also claims he funneled $40,000 to a close friend of Gray’s for home improvements. Gray has maintained his innocence from the onset, saying Thompson is trying to smear him.

Alexander’s email blasts focused on new information from the document release alleging $10,000 from Gray’s shadow campaign was given to the Washington Teacher’s Union’s president to sway their support toward Gray for his mayoral bid.

“Today I have my Washington Teachers Union endorsement interview and I will seek the WTU’s endorsement — only I will not be using a rumpled paper bag full of secret cash,” Alexander said in one of the emails, titled “Uncle Earl’s Money.”

Uncle Earl allegedly refers to Thompson’s alias, used for both his campaign dealings and alleged secret sexual encounters, possibly kept quiet by bribes. Investigators told The Washington Post Thompson had “emissaries out there finding these young men,” allegedly in large numbers for parties hosted by Thompson. The findings called Thompson’s credibility into question, and reportedly stopped any investigation into claims Gray knew about the fraud.

“On December 9, 2015, they closed the investigation, and that’s where it ended as far as I’m concerned,” Gray recently told The Washington Times.

Despite his lead in the Council race, questions still linger regarding his role in the 2010 shadow campaign. The Washington Post editorial board wrote April 17 the situation remains mystifying, questioning Gray’s role as well as the credibility of Thompson, simply pointing out there remain more questions than answers.

A recent poll released from the Gray campaign shows him dwarfing his opponent, incumbent Yvette Alexander for the District’s Ward 7 Council seat, with 52 percent of the voter support to her 23 percent.

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