Loose Lips

Is Vince Gray Fucked? And Other Questions

LL was out interviewing Ward 5 Councilmember-elect Kenyan McDuffie today when news broke that Mayor Vince Gray's de facto mayoral campaign treasurer, Thomas Gore, is almost certain to plead guilty in the near future to destroying evidence and using Gray's campaign funds to make illegal payments to former minor mayoral candidate  Sulaimon Brown. Lucky for you, dear reader, LL is now back in the office to break it down:

How Bad Does This Look For Gray?

Horrible. Court records say Gore destroyed a "spiral notebook" containing records of payments to Brown the same day that Brown went public in the Washington Post alleging that he got cash payments and the promise of a city job in return for attacking then-Mayor Adrian Fenty on the campaign trail. They also say Gore used Gray's campaign money to make illegal payments to Brown's campaign.

Gray's always denied knowing of or approving any Brown-related shenanigans, and Gore's court records don't prove otherwise. But Gore's close association with Gray sure puts a big dent in the mayor's image, if not his story. Gore is a longtime friend of Gray who handled the campaign's day-to-day finances. It's not clear how close they've been since the election, but a Wilson Building source says Gore was spotted in the mayor's suite as recent as this past winter.

If Gray's story pans out—he didn't know anything about the Sulaimon payments—then Gore's case will be yet another glaring example of Gray's misplaced trust in a top deputy. If Gray did know Gore was paying Brown with campaign money, then the District will have a mayor with zero credibility.

Gray, who used to take any and all opportunities to profess his innocence in l'affaire Sulaimon, has been referring questions about Gore's case to his lawyer, Robert Bennett, who declined to comment.

What's Next?

It's too early to say for sure, but it's highly doubtful that Gore's soon-to-be guilty plea will signal the end of federal investigators' year-plus probe into Gray's 2010 campaign. Brown never accused Gore of any wrongdoing, but instead named Gray's campaign chairwoman Lorraine Green and campaign aide Howard Brooks as the go-betweens who gave him cash envelopes. Neither has been charged with wrongdoing, and Greene has always denied Brown's allegations. Mysteryman Brooks has kept quite, but there have been reports that he's cooperated with authorities.

Gore, too, appears to be cooperating with the feds. His attorney, Fred Cooke Jr., tells LL that Gore's been answering the questions put to him by law enforcement agencies but hasn't been wearing a wire or doing undercover work.

So is Gray Fucked?

Again, it's too early to say yes or no for sure. As LL and others have noted, the Sulaimon saga appears to be just a small part of what the feds are looking at. The bigger issue is an alleged off-the-books shadow campaign with ties to D.C. Medicaid contractor Jeffrey Thompson, whose house and offices were raided by federal agents earlier this year. Gore's charging documents make no mention of that alleged shadow effort or Thompson. And Cooke says Gore has "nothing to do" with any alleged shadow campaign.

If Gray's problems remain limited to Brown, then the ramifications may not be so bad. But if bigger, Thompson-related shoes start dropping, who knows what could happen? Either way, it looks like the U.S. Attorney's Office has finally started making its move.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • DJ Ren

    Boy, does this:

    "Gray, who used to take any and all opportunities to profess his innocence in l'affaire Sulaimon, has been referring questions about Gore's case to his lawyer, Robert Bennett, who declined to comment"

    sound like a certain former Ward 5 council member's MO. Too funny.

  • truth hurts

    In answer to LL's (poorly worded) question:

    YES, HE IS.

  • Joe

    Fred cooke does not go to trial. He'll plea, but he doesn't go to trial. Gray's in trouble.

  • Wilson

    rolling on the floor, laughing my ass off.

    Gray is guilty. No doubt.
    Way to go Wards 5, 7, and 8. He was a really good choice for Mayor. (dumb asses)

  • Mary-Austin

    Wait he's from Ward 7 and takes care of native Washingtonians so it's all good!

  • Drez

    I don't put aside any possibility to tell you the truth.

  • 16th Street Heights

    Yes, I think, Mayor Gray is fucked and it will come later on down the road. Gray looks so tired and old. The man has aged and he could play Herman Munster's double in a motion picture.

  • Cob

    Icabod Crane

  • Sally

    Do DC's attorney conflict rules not apply to Fred Cooke?

  • gitchafaxstr8

    @12 in moderation: Uh Oh, they caught me.

  • http://btolson1@verizonnet.com Sinking Ships

    Shall we go down the list? Vernon, Hawkins, Lorraine Greene then Vince Gray!!

    OMG!!! What a great summer we shall have!!!

    Vince will be indicted by July 4th...

    Serves him right!!

  • http://Www.glaaforum.org Rick Rosendall

    If, if, if. This is wankery. But hey, whatever helps get you through the day.

  • Pingback: Vince Gray, and the Curse of the local born mayor of Chocolate City « Chocolate City Review

  • TiredinW5

    It's a shame that DC has to go through all of this, but these two have been scratching each others' backs for years.

    In 2008, instead of letting a high performing school get a shot, Gray pushed through "emergency" legislation (PR17-0777) GIVING Gore's non-profit, A.R.E., rights to the Langston/Slater school buildings 5 years after Gore's charter was revoked by the charter board.

    There's a lot more to the Gray-Gore story. Don't let us down, LL!

  • anon

    Can't wait till David Alpert writes about this at GGW.

    Oh wait, mentioning his endorsement of Gray gets you banned from the site.

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    word on the street is within 30 days of HJT reporting to prison Machen is dropping the bomb on Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown

  • Honest Abe

    Man, Fred Cooke is a busy man. He must be an awesome attorney with very affordable rates to be the go to attorney for all of our elected leaders who are charged and or investigated.

  • NE John

    He is truly, madly, deeply fucked

  • CamJam

    Whatever happened to Judy "I like round numbers" Banks? Is she off the hook already?

  • J

    When will this town ever have a mayor that isnt corrupt? We are the nations capital and still can't get it right

  • noodlez

    IT IS MAYOR VINCE GRAY TO YOU MR. HOT GARBAGE SPEWER!

    YO SEWERMAN THIS IS PURE HYPERBOLE.
    HOW ARE YOU GOING TO ASK LOADED QUESTIONS THEN PROVIDE WHAT AMOUNTS TO YOUR “HATE EVERYTHING OF DC” OPINIONATED ANSWERS? WHILE ALL THE WHILE YOU BURY FACTS ALMOST AS GOOD AS MR. GORE.

    I SEE THE FAGGIE FENTY FLUNKIES POUNCED ALMOST AS QUICKLY AS THE GOP ON BOOKER’S COMMENTS. YA’LL FOLKS REMIND ME OF THE CHARACTER IN THE MOVIE “THE HELP” EATING THAT SHIT PIE. YOU ARE SO BLINDED THAT YOU RELY ON YOUR SINCE OF SMELL AND IF VANILLA, CINNAMON, SUGAR OR A NUMBER OF SPICES THAT YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO ARE PUT ON ANYTHING YOU AUTOMATICALLY EAT IT UP.

    LETS REVIEW. SHALL WE?
    “Gray's always denied knowing of or approving any Brown-related shenanigans, and Gore's court records don't prove otherwise.” ARE YOU SAYING THERE IS NO EVIDENCE IMPLICATING MAYOR GRAY?

    “It's too early to say for sure, but it's highly doubtful that Gore's soon-to-be guilty plea will signal the end of federal investigators' year-plus probe into Gray's 2010 campaign.” DO YOU THINK IN A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION YEAR WHEN A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT IS SEEKING RE-ELECTION THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WILL INDICT A DEMOCRATIC MAYOR OF MINOR CAMPAIGN BULLSHIGGADY?

    FOLKS YOU CAN LOOK INTO ANYONES CAMPAIGN AND FIND IMPROPRIETIES. LET’S BE CLEAR MAYOR GRAY DID NOT NEED ANY HELP TO BEAT THE WORST MAYOR DC EVER HAD. THE FACT OF THE MATTER REMAINS IS THAT MAYOR GRAY IS DOING A STAND UP JOB FOR MY CITY AND IF YOU BAMMAS WANT TO HOLD ON TO FENTY’S DICK AFTER HE FUCKED YA’LL RAW THEN SO BE IT!

    ONE CITY.
    TWO YEARS IN.

  • tony

    The centerpiece of the allegations against Mayor Gray is that his mayoral campaign may have operated a "shadow campaign" to attack former Mayor Adrian Fenty. And such operation was funded by campaign donations which were procured in an illegal fashion.
    "SHADOW CAMPAIGN'
    Nearly every single major political campaign in this country operates "shadow campaigns". The idea behind such efforts is to conduct campaign related activities which can't be traced backed to the formal campaign. Such methods allow a candidate to attack and counter-attack his opponent in a more aggressive way without the fear of absorbing any sort of potential backlash that may arises. Typically, such efforts are funded by what are commonly referred to as "street money" or "soft money". Again, these tactics have been implored since the beginning of time. Thus, it begs the question of why the white media and white establishment would use it resources and enormous power to convey the perception that the Gray's campaign embarked on a journey that is unusual and foreign to the political world. Well, let me tell you why.
    The white establishment has made a decision to dismantle black leadership in this city. But the only way they could do this is to first discredit the black politicians so as to turn public opinion against them. Once they have successfully turn public opinion against them, then it's very easy to indict and strip them of power without any public outcry. And, this is what’s happening right before your very eyes.
    If, in fact, the effort to rid this city of corrupt politicians was the real objective, people like Jim Graham, Jack Evans, and David Catania would have their heads on the chopping block. Some of these men have engaged in public corruption worthy of life in jail without the possibility of parole. No, the real mission is to dismantle black leadership and transfer political power in our Nation Capitol. The impetus for such efforts rest on the sad and racist belief that black governance is insufficient and bad.

  • JM

    @J: actually DC doesn't have a reputation for political corruption the way other cities do. I don't recall a whiff of scandal about Anthony Williams, and Marion Barry (although his personal antics were embarrassing) was never tainted with corruption charges as Mayor. The recent City Council and Mayoral shenanigans are a recent, unpleasant evolution.

  • drez

    You and i recall things very differently, JM.

  • DC5

    Joe DiGenova rooted through Barry's closets and drawers and all his associates too with search warrants. BARRY was never charged with ANY corruption, EVER. He had high-ranking govt officials go to prison, but HE was not implicated, charged, convicted, etc. Joe DiGenova and Jay Stephens and Ron Machen need to go do their thing in Florida, Illinois, or Pennsylvania (judges sentencing kids to prisons they received bribes from). We got some election shenanigans B$, but "corruption" it is not.

  • deedle

    According to WAMU, Gore's pleading to a $565 payment to Brown. That's peanuts. Remember when journalists "followed the money".

  • ben

    "Mysteryman Brooks has kept quite"

    Quite what? Mysteryman Brooks has kept quite what?! We want to know!

  • cminus

    @drez, I believe JM is right about Barry's record as Mayor, at least prior to his post-Vista comeback.

    Barry was our local analogue to the elder Richard Daley in Machine-era Chicago. He presided over an immensely corrupt system, and had no problem with it, but he himself did not seek personal enrichment. As a biographer of Daley wrote, Daley was glad that the Machine brought in money, because when it came time to divide the spoils other men would ask for riches, freeing Daley to take his share in nothing but power.

  • Ward 1 Voter

    My heart goes out to Mayor Gary's family, and the families of all of his many, many co-conspirators. They all seemed like such good kids. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Could have happened to anyone, really.

  • Ward 1 Voter

    ONE CITY.
    TWO YEARS IN.

    Really, only two years? I'm thinking it will be at least 5 to 10.

  • Peter Rosenstein

    Right now this is a great story for the press- front page columns and top of the broadcast TV news for any reporter who can glom onto a piece of the story.

    As Mr. Suderman says in the midst of his story no one least of all he knows where this ends up. I have always said let it play out and let the US Attorney work the details and then punish the guilty whoever they are.

    Meantime let Vince Gray continue doing the great job he is as Mayor. The City is doing great - economic development is booming- budgets are balanced and there is over a billion dollars in the reserve fund. The City just got voted the best place for college graduates to move too and our population is growing.

    So let the press scrum howl and let the Mayor do his job and I urge everyone to wait to see what the final result of the US Attorney's probe is before we jump to conclusions.

  • Boris

    @Noodlez,

    Mayor Bojangles is goin' down.

    And it's way past time.

    One City, baby, yeah!

  • DJ Ren

    HA! I was waiting for the usual one citidiots to chime in, just like they did with HTJ. We've seen how that turned out.

    I'll bide my time and issue another "I told you so" after the next round of indictments.

    Indictment Summer 2012!

  • drez

    I'm a bit surprised at the calls for temperance, given that the Feds are backing SB's claims of campaign and campaign finance fraud, and charging Gray's treasurer with obstruction of justice in destruction of evidence.
    Obviously the treasurer was keeping two sets of books. Just as obviously he made the judgement call that destroying one of them was preferable to having more dirt come out.
    We'll see how that works.
    Regardless of any further Federal indictments, running two sets of books and destroying one of them is not pretty. It leaves even the most moderate and reasonable people wondering what they were hiding.

  • NE John

    Time to eat some yummy shit pie

  • Sally

    One City. Fifth Amendment. Five to Ten Years.

  • ben

    @ Two CENTS:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Because prison rape jokes are always hilarious! Idiot.

  • StrangeFruit

    @ Tony,

    You are right on point!

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com southeast lady

    I believe that Mayor Gray's people underestimated Sulaimon Brown. Even though Brown comes across as being retarded (and I believe he is). Brown can be used as a catalyst for people who are keeping watch out for corruption.

    Can you imagine Sulaimon Brown being OUR Mayor. Oh my!

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com southeast lady

    Is Vincent Gray in trouble? You bet. Is Kwame Brown in trouble, I hope so. Brown who concentrated on what the interior color of his SUV should be, needs to be in trouble.

    And then Brown allowing himself to be shown getting out of an old US Postal service vehicle was insulting and disgraceful.

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com southeast lady

    To Ward 1 Voter: Personally, my way of dealing with ALL politicans' children is to leave them out of their parents politics, even though they may have reaped the rewards of their parents illegal political activities. However, if at some point in time and age, they are brought into it, they are fair game.

    In other words--it is up to their parents to keep them out of the fracas!

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com southeast lady

    I believe that DC voters and citizens need to CLEAN HOUSE.
    I don't have a plan, but I am sure we can come up with one. I am sick and tired of all of them on the city council (small letters intended). We are such sheep.

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com southeast lady

    To J: Yes, we are the nation's capital and WE DON'T EVEN HAVE REPRESENTATION. How can be get it right. Being the nation's capital sounds good on paper, but in reality we don't have a vote. See!

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com southeast lady

    To Boris: Why do you use the term Mayor Bojangles?

    Thanks

  • Mary-Austin

    @southeast lady

    Boris used that term because he was responding to noodlez, who fancies himself some little pissant black panther and he's a joke period.
    Why do you not mention any noodlez' comments which are 99% racist drivel?

  • Sarah

    I have heard "Mayor Bojangles" used as a nickname for Vincent Gray, because Gray has a pencil mustache like the late, great Ratpacker Sammy Davis Jr. (One of his signature songs was "Mr. Bojangles." Another was the "Candy Man", which would be a great name for Jeffrey Thompson.)

    I have also heard and read other nicknames like "Count Chocula" and the "Old Gray Mayor" for Vince.

  • city blues
  • TakeEmDownBaby

    Gray is a LIAR! And every one of his friends and acquaintances are LIARS too. Gray is as shady as they come, no pun intended. The man is no good. He had a young, pretty girlfriend who works for the Feds. I wonder why she's not being investigated, maybe she is though. She was always by his side during the campaign and was seen handling financial affairs at his fundraisers. I wonder if she's involved with the take down - you know on an undercover level. She should have good reason to since Gray dumped her a day after he won the election.

...