Loose Lips

Pretty Sure That’s a Yes, Vince

Another day, another Almost Mayor Vince Gray news conference at the Reeves Center. At today's affair, VG introduced the staffers who have worked for him as council chairman and and will be—surprise!—working for him as mayor in nearly identical roles.

Of much more interest was Gray's answer to LL's question of whether he thought Still Attorney General Peter Nickles' pursuit of financial records from Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.'s sports non-profit, Team Thomas, was part of a politically motivated investigation.

Gray's full response, given with a pretty decent level of gusto:

"I happen to have been in one involving a fence, I've never seen an attorney general involve himself in a fence, Alan, so one can speculate that perhaps it's politically motivated. And you may recall too that there was an investigation done that I was the only in four years to whom this law had been applied. So it's speculation of course, but it's informed speculation."

Don't know about you, but sounds like a yes to LL. (Gray didn't mention that he eventually settled with the city, agreeing to pay $300 for breaking whatever useless rule the city has about putting fences around one's home.)

Why this matters: After a couple months of wrangling, Thomas has been ordered by a judge to hand over financial records to Nickles' office that show, in detail this time, who contributed to Team Thomas while he was a sitting councilmember and how that money was spent.

The catch is that Thomas doesn't have to hand over the records until Jan. 8, by which time Gray will be mayor and a new A.G. will be installed. Will said next A.G. take Thomas' records, put them in a drawer, and never speak of them again? No one asked Gray that specifically, but Gray did say he wants an A.G. who's "responsive to the people" and conducts fair, objective and speedy investigations.

Reached by phone, Nickles wasn't amused, saying Gray's comment's about the fence and Team Thomas investigation "demean the office" he's about to take. Nickles also pointed out that the argument that his investigation of Team Thomas is politically motivated has fallen flat in court, twice.

"This is a serious matter ... [Thomas] solicited in excess of $200,000 illegally," says Nickles.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • DCDem

    Alan, was that you who asked that question? I never knew what you looked like. His answer was pretty much on point. Was it me or was the press pool asking some pretty dumb questions (i.e. Will any Fenty appointees remain in his administration?). You didn't hear the whispers in the crowd but they went something like this "...Wasn't the soon-to-be City Administrator appointed yesterday a "Fenty" apointee?" And I thought the classless Rose-Barras was going to have a textbook hissy fit when Gray's seemingly scheduler said he had another appointment to attend. She often underscores the age of Gray's advisors when she, herself, looks as if she herself conducted the train on the underground railroad. I digress.

    It was refreshing to see a press conference that didn't seem scripted or where the Mayor refered to a blackberry for answers.

    I'm encouraged.

    BTW, that group appointed today was very diverse in age and ethnicity.

    And please tell Tim Craig if he cruises him enough the current Mayor may give him a date. He seems to be suffering from extreme separation anxiety and Fenty hasn't even left office. I really feel sorry for him.

  • Truth Hurts

    Really bad for Gray to comment on Team Thomas, a matter that HIS attorney general will have to deal with next month. He should've punted to the next AG and the DC court. Twice now judges have ruled against Thomas. Were their rulings politically motivated?

    There's no doubt Thomas solicited funds in violation of DC licensing provisions. And Thomas' refusal to disclose donors/expenditures suggests he's engaged in shady and/or illegal activities with the money Team Thomas collected.

    Gray's flip comments sound as if he doesn't care about DC laws or CM ethics. Not good.

  • Indeed

    @th,

    come on. gray didn't address the validity of the claim, only the motivation of nickles etal. something can be politically motivated and still be the truth. is there any specific talk that thomas did nothing wrong? no. quit with this bullshit, th.

  • Truth Hurts

    Just calling it as I see it. Gray should've punted on the question. In my view, saying it's politically motivated suggests it's without merit. And I'm betting HT and his lawyer took Gray's comments that way too.

  • Sally

    Didn't Gray also use a non-DC company to put up his illegal fence? An unlicensed non-DC company that was a subsidiary of his buddy's construction company?

  • Robert

    Sally, you got him! An illegal fence!! (no wonder Linda Argo is unemployed. Her agency could only find one illegal fence in four years. There must be dozens!)
    Wow. His predecessor steered millions in contracts to his buddies, and his henchman, and you, are worried about a stupid fence. I know nothing about the Thomas case, but it is clear that Nickles disgraced the office of attorney general, and thus makes everything he does suspect. It is Nickles, not Gray, whose comments are inappropriate. His bullying tactics and misuse of office really should be investigated by the bar association.

  • Steve

    The issues the Court ruled-on was did the Attorney General have the right to subpoena the records. The Court really would a very high level of "proof" that the AG didn't have some reason to require the information be provided by the AG to quash the subpoena.

    Gray is probably correct that Nickles actions are politically motivated -- and maybe personal. That doesn't mean that there isn't an issue with regard to Thomas' fund raising; but Gray can both be correct about the motivation; and, still support the need for the question to cleared-up.

    Nickles use of his discretionary authority was pretty much established -- take "das Fence" as a prime example.

    But then Nickles' was prodded on by the press to make a lot out of what turned-out to be nothing. Gray payed pretty much what appears to have been a retail price for having a contractor build him a fence. Having "exposed" the nothing, Gray suffered a lot more damage than the "tear-it-down" insult which the Executive Branch put him through in a political year.

    The Press (including Loose Lips past and present) should be more offended by the AG of District or any other law enforcement officer using the legal processes as an extension of politics. It was fine for Mr. Fenty, the Press, and anyone else to say whatever they believed about this-or-that...BUT IT IS NOT OKAY for law enforcement to proceed unfairly as an extension of what was purely a political exercise which otherwise was disproportionately applied.

  • DCDem

    If you guys are pissed then the majority of the city must be pleased. The progressive jerks of the District lost and are yet still bitter. If you need a journalist to lick your deep wounds you have rose-barras and tim craig to look to while the rest of the city moves on.

    Gray simply said that the Attorney General represents the entire city, it would have been irresponsible, being the sitting Council Chair for him to comment on an ongoing investigation of one of his sitting council members.

    You guys/gals are just plain stupid and bitter.

    Try a little honey.

    LMAO. It is going to be a joy to see the comments for the next four years. I love to see the embittered vent.

  • samantha

    The very presence of Peter Nickles as anything in DC demeans the very exsistence of local government and HOME RULE . Both Nickles and his fellow KLANSMEN who are heading this WITCH HUNT should be quarantined in Virginia where they really live and prosecuted for PERJURY in claiming DC as legal residence .THe FENTY_RHEE_NICKLES MAFIA IS OUT!!!

  • ControlBored

    TH- the very fact that you don't see that the pursuit of Thomas was politically motivated is very baffling to me. I support looking into the matter further and if Thomas doesn't have anything to hide, then great, a win/win for everyone. But, not for a second did i believe it was AG Nickles actually doing this out of a sense of duty to his office. Nickles singled-out Peebles, out of a group of 21 others that had "similar, questionable leases", and decided to pursue him alone while trying to negotiate a deal with the others. His own fucking office was supportive of working out a deal with Peebles, but he wasn't.
    And when other legitimate concerns were raised about Karim, Skinner, and Lomax, what has Nickles done to protect the City's interest? The exact opposite of what he's doing now. Hypocrisy abounds.
    Gray did nothing wrong by answering what was a legitimate question and by offering what he really believed. If he said anything else, what would be your response?

  • Truth Hurts

    I'm not claiming there was no political motivation. That may have played a role given that Nickles continues going out of his way to make public comments about Thomas -- something the AG generally shouldn't do.

    Had Gray said something like this, I wouldn't have criticized his comment:

    "Whether I think the Team Thomas investigation is or isn't politically motivated is unimportant. What's important is whether a CM - or any public official - uses his/her office to improperly solicit funds for illegitimate purposes. Whether that did or did not happen in this case remains to be seen. Hopefully, once records are produced in accordance with the court's order, we'll all be in a position to make that judgment."

  • DCNative

    @th wow you really miss the point. Your statement suggestion should be written the opposite way:

    "Whether or not there is validity to this issue with CM Thomas remains to be seen. However, my experience with this AG demonstrates a trend toward pursuate of investigations against opponents of Mayor Fenty, while total blinders appear to exist with our DC legal representative when it comes to Fenty friends and special business associates"

    Now that may need some political massaging, but that point was and is Mr Nickles has failed to be an unbiased representIve for the people in upholding the laws of the district of Columbia. He spent 4 years giving the appearance of the Fenty pitbull rather than the defender of the people. Your distain for the Mayor-elect's comments are your thoughts and feelings. However, it doesn't hold water to the actions and appearances of this can't-leave-to-soon AG. He is THE reason this City has passed a referendum to elect the AG. It may have been an extreme response to am extreme abuse of power, but that is where we are thanks to give-a-worse-name-to-lawyers Nickles.

  • Truth Hurts

    That might've been an appropriate answer had the question been asked during the campaign, but Gray already won the election. Now it's time to govern.

    One city, united not divided. Isn't that his mantra/goal?

    There have been plenty of politically motivated investigations/hearings with Gray's fingerprints on them. Neither he nor his supporters are advancing the one city agenda by offering opinions suggesting HT is being treated unfairly.

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