Rivlin: Scan­dal tests faith in Gray

‘I don’t know what to be­lieve,’ re­spected backer says of al­le­ga­tions

The Washington Post - - METRO - BY MIKE DEBONIS

A widely re­spected sup­porter of Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray ex­pressed new con­cerns about his pos­si­ble in­volve­ment in cam­paign wrong­do­ing Tues­day, a day be­fore he was to re­ceive the en­dorse­ment of iconic for­mer fourterm mayor Mar­ion Barry.

Alice M. Rivlin, a for­mer Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion budget di­rec­tor who is now a Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion re­searcher, was a high­pro­file sup­porter of Gray’s run against then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D). She hosted a fundraiser in her For­est Hills home, and she lent her ex­per­tise to Gray’s transi

tion com­mit­tee.

Reached on Tues­day, Rivlin in­di­cated that her sup­port is wa­ver­ing in light of prose­cu­tors’ re­cent al­le­ga­tions that Gray (D) knew of an il­le­gal, off-the-books cam­paign waged on his be­half in 2010.

“I don’t know what to be­lieve,” she said. “I’ve been a strong sup­porter of the mayor. I think he’s

run the city very well, and I’m in the quandary that ev­ery­one else is in. . . . I’m not sure I need to say more than that.”

Rivlin de­clined to say whether she plans to vote for Gray in the Demo­cratic pri­mary. She has served as an ad­viser and sound­ing board dur­ing Gray’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and played a leading role in the search for the city’s new chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer.

Federal au­thor­i­ties laid out the al­le­ga­tions af­ter ne­go­ti­at­ing the guilty plea of busi­ness­man Jef­frey E. Thomp­son, who ad­mit­ted or­ches­trat­ing a “shadow” cam­paign for Gray four years ago. Thomp­son im­pli­cated the mayor in the scheme. Gray de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and pit­ted his cred­i­bil­ity against that of Thomp­son, whowas once the city’s largest con­trac­tor.

“Who do you be­lieve?” he asked in his State of the District ad­dress, a day af­ter Thomp­son’s plea. “A greedy man at­tempt­ing to save him­self ? Or me, a pub­lic ser­vant who has ded­i­cated my en­tire ca­reer and my en­tire life to giv­ing back to our com­mu­ni­ties in the District of Columbia?”

Rivlin’s state­ment, a dis­cor­dant note among Gray’s gen­er­ally loyal long­time sup­port­ers, came two weeks be­fore pri­mary votes are counted April 1. Early voting con­tin­ued for a sec­ond day Tues­day, with more than 500 people cast­ing bal­lots at a down­town polling place, ac­cord­ing to the D.C. Board of Elec­tions Web site. That was a big jump from the 158 who braved Mon­day’s win­try weather to cast bal­lots.

Chuck Thies, Gray’s cam­paign man­ager, de­clined to ad­dress Rivlin’s doubts. But he said Gray’s sup­port is “strong and grow­ing,” cit­ing a num­ber of la­bor en­dorse­ments.

“We con­tinue to re­ceive an out­pour­ing of sup­port from across the District, and given the cov­er­age of this cam­paign, it doesn’t sur­prise us that some people may be con­cerned,” Thies said. “Ul­ti­mately, vot­ers know the truth and will look at the mayor’s record and his ac­com­plish­ments on fact as op­posed to in­nu­endo.”

Gray is ex­pected to pub­licly tout Barry’s sup­port Wed­nes­day, days af­ter the D.C. Coun­cil mem­ber and “mayor for life” gave his first in­ter­views in sup­port of the em­bat­tled Gray and stumped for him on Barry’s home turf, Ward 8.

Al­though the en­dorse­ment comes as lit­tle sur­prise, Barry (D) had kept his may­oral pref­er­ences to him­self un­til rel­a­tively re­cently, and Gray’s op­po­nents — par­tic­u­larly coun­cil col­league Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) — had sought to woo him to their camps.

Four years ago, Barry vig­or­ously cam­paigned for Gray, but a for­mal en­dorse­ment event was not staged as Gray sought to avoid be­ing tied too closely to a pre­vi­ous era of District pol­i­tics. Since then, Gray and Barry have tan­gled oc­ca­sion­ally, but they have main­tained a cor­dial re­la­tion­ship. In the crowded pri­mary, Gray is depend­ing on rack­ing up big mar­gins among Barry loy­al­ists.

Gray was present in Barry ter­ri­tory Tues­day to cut the rib­bon on a com­mu­nity health cen­ter in the Belle­vue neigh­bor­hood of South­west Wash­ing­ton.

The Barry news was first tweeted Tues­day by WUSA (Chan­nel 9) re­porter Bruce John­son, and the Gray cam­paign shortly af­ter­ward is­sued an em­bar­goed ad­vi­sory list­ing de­tails of the event.

A Post re­porter in­ad­ver­tently broke the em­bargo by tweet­ing about the ad­vi­sory, but The Post in­de­pen­dently con­firmed the im­pend­ing Barry en­dorse­ment with a per­son fa­mil­iar with the mayor’s plans. LaToya Fos­ter, a spokes­woman for Barry, said he in­tends to an­nounce his en­dorse­ment Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon at Matthews Me­mo­rial Bap­tist Church, near the Ana­cos­tia Metro sta­tion. The pas­tor, C. Matthew Hud­son, is an ally of Barry’s and Gray’s.

Hud­son de­liv­ered the in­vo­ca­tion at Gray’s State of the District ad­dress last week, and he chairs the board of United Med­i­cal Cen­ter, the city-owned hospi­tal in Ward 8.

Barry, 78, re­cently left an in­pa­tient phys­i­cal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ter, wrap­ping up two lengthy stays in med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties. He continues to un­dergo phys­i­cal ther­apy and has yet to fully re­turn to his du­ties as coun­cil mem­ber.

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