Vincent Gray knew about 'shadow' campaign, prosecutors allege

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray denies knowing about Jeffrey Thompson's illegal shadow campaign that helped him get elected.
By Gabrielle Levy  |  March 10, 2014 at 5:59 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 10 (UPI) -- Prosecutors in the corruption trial against a D.C. businessman said Mayor Vincent Gray was aware of the illegal "shadow" campaign that helped him get elected in 2010.

Gray personally asked for Jeffrey Thompson's help, and even agreed to call Thompson "Uncle Earl" to keep the campaign under wraps, Asst. U.S. Attorney Michael Atkinson alleged at a hearing Monday.

Thompson is expected to plead guilty to charges of pouring $2 million in illegal contributions into local campaigns, including Gray's successful 2010 effort to unseat then-Mayor Adrian Fenty.

The mayor denied the prosecutors' allegations, calling them lies intended to shift some of the burden of responsibility off Thompson and reduce his jail time.

"It’s shocking to me,” Gray said. “Lies. These are lies.”

“I’ve said all that I know,” the mayor said. “I’ve said this repeatedly. I’ve said I didn’t do anything -- that I had nothing to do with this.”

Gray admitted to calling Thompson "Uncle Earl," but claimed doing so was to hide his participation from Fenty, who was also receiving contributions from Thompson.

Prosecutors say Gray asked Thompson for help to "accelerate his funding" three days before a financing deadline, and that the help turned out to be thousands of dollars in "straw donations" from other individuals who were later reimbursed by Thompson. Later, Thompson allegedly provided $400,000 toward a get-out-the-vote effort.

Thompson said Gray made the funding requests himself, at a meeting at an apartment belonging to an associate.

Thompson has agreed to a deal to plead guilty to one count of conspiring to break federal and local campaign finance laws between 2006 and 2012, totaling in excess of $2 million, including $812,146 supporting candidates for D.C. Council and mayor. According to court filings, Thompson spent some $668,800 on campaign materials and services for Gray's campaign.

He faces up to six months in prison and three years of supervised released, and the agreement is subject to a judge's approval.

Gray said he intends to complete his term and continue his campaign for a second.

US v. Jeffrey Thompson

[Washington Post]

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