Gray: Let cam­paign donor probe play out

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY TOM HOW­ELL JR.

Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray dis­tanced him­self Wed­nes­day from an ac­tive D.C. po­lit­i­cal donor whose home and of­fices were raided Fri­day as part of a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion into cam­paign fi­nance ac­tiv­i­ties.

Mr. Gray said it has been “months” since he spoke to Jef­frey E. Thompson, a pro­lific donor renowned for us­ing his com­pa­nies and as­so­ciates to amass large amounts of cam­paign dol­lars for Mr. Gray, past may­ors and nearly all of the Dis­trict’s sit­ting coun­cil mem­bers.

“I asked Mr. Thompson to sup­port my cam­paign,” Mr. Gray said of his suc­cess­ful 2010 run for mayor.

But Mr. Gray said it was pre­ma­ture to con­clude that fed­eral agents were seek­ing ma­te­ri­als re­lated to his cam­paign, which has been ac­cused of shroud­ing the source of some cash do­na­tions by con­vert­ing them into money or­ders.

The mayor said he played a per­sonal role in ac­quir­ing checks for the cam­paign but did not cull cash or money or­ders or di­rect any­one to con­ceal their ori­gins.

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion about in­ap­pro­pri­ate fundrais­ing ac­tiv­ity can come for­ward “any time they wish,” he said.

“Let the in­ves­ti­ga­tion play out,” Mr. Gray told re­porters at his bi­weekly news brief­ing. “The bot­tom line is the rules should have been fol­lowed in all in­stances.”

The raid in­volv­ing Mr. Thompson — who has not been ac­cused of any wrong­do­ing — re­ver­ber­ated through city hall and po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns in the Dis­trict and has re­newed leg­isla­tive ef­forts to ban cor­po­rate con­tri­bu­tions to city cam­paigns.

Mr. Gray de­clined to take a po­si­tion on a bill in­tro­duced Tues­day by coun­cil mem­bers Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Demo­crat, and Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Demo­crat, that bans po­lit­i­cal do­na­tions from cor­po­ra­tions and from city con­trac­tors who rely on the coun­cil to ap­prove their deals.

Although the de­bate is hardly new to the Dis­trict, Mr. Gray said he must read the en­tire leg­is­la­tion be­fore he takes a po­si­tion on it.

Re­call­ing his 2010 cam­paign, Mr. Gray said it has been a long time since he spoke to his fundrais­ing cap­tain, Reuben O. Charles, who has kept a low-pro­file in thep­ast year.

“I don’t know that he’s dis­ap­peared,” Mr. Gray added, re­spond­ing to ques­tions about Mr. Charles’ where­abouts.

Although the goal of Fri­day’s raid re­mains un­clear, it has reignited in­ter­est in al­le­ga­tions that il­licit money changed hands at mul­ti­ple points in the may­oral race.

Last year, mi­nor may­oral can­di­date Su­lai­mon Brown claimed Mr. Gray’s team promised him a job and paid him to bash in­cum­bent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on the 2010 cam­paign trail.

A D.C. Coun­cil com­mit­tee and the House Com­mit­tee on Gov­ern­ment Over­sight is­sued in­ves­tiga­tive re­ports that crit­i­cized Howard Brooks — a cam­paign worker who is said to have paid Mr. Brown but who has de­clined to speak pub­licly about the mat­ter — and Mr. Brown him­self but did not lay se­ri­ous blame at the feet of Mr. Gray.

ROD LAMKEY JR./THE WASHINGTON TIMES

D.C. Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray said it’s been months since he spoke to Jef­frey E. Thompson ,whose home and of­fices were raided Fri­day as part of a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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