Loose Lips

Vince Gray Gets Gored

Vince Gray Gets Gored

The term “senseless crime” is oftenapplied to acts of pointless violence. But it’s also an apt term to describe the sheer idiocy of the alleged plot by Mayor Vince Gray’s 2010 campaign aides to fund fringe candidate Sulaimon Brown and his over-the-top attacks on then-Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Gray’s longtime friend and acting campaign treasurer Thomas Gore pleaded guilty on Tuesday to funneling Gray’s campaign money into money orders that were given to Brown’s campaign. Gore also pleaded guilty to the much more serious crime of destroying evidence of those payments and obstructing the FBI’s ongoing investigation of the Gray campaign. Court records indicate that Gore had help, and “other members” of the Gray campaign were part of the plan to keep Brown’s campaign afloat.

During his court hearing, Gore had the look of a man dejected and broken by his sorry predicament. At times he stared off at nothing in particular, with a glum look in his eyes. Perhaps Gore, who wouldn’t talk to reporters after the hearing, was thinking about how pointless his wrongdoing had been.

Gray, after all, did not need Brown’s help to win: He was up against a hugely unpopular incumbent who ran a horrible campaign. A Washington Post poll taken in January 2010, months before he even got into the race, showed Gray winning a hypothetical matchup 35 to 31. The same poll showed that Fenty’s disapproval rate was 49 percent.

Gray campaign aides tell LL that their strategy was never very complicated: just make sure Gray’s supporters came out on election day. Gray never had to make the case why he should be elected, and why Fenty shouldn’t be re-elected; that issue was already settled, even more so for the tiny portion of diehards who actually heard Brown take potshots at Fenty during campaign forums.

Gore, as part of Gray’s inner campaign circle, should have known as well as anyone that Brown was a nonfactor in the race. But he still went ahead with the Sulaimon plan anyway, then bumbled and lied his way through a cover-up. That’s just senseless.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • um hummm

    The consensus at the weekly pinocle game just came up with Vince didn't get Gored, he got Marked by Long, Slimed by Green, Ho'd by Brooks, and will rue the day he ever met Charles. Who appears to have gotten away sh----
    clean headed again.

  • truth hurts

    Anyone else notice "um hummm" (whoever he/she is) working overtime today trying to deflect blame from One City?

    Knock yourself out, UH, eventually it's gonna be curtains for Gray. The train's left the station.

  • mmhh

    Many people liked Fenty but the Gray Campaign used scary tactics to make people believe Fenty was for White people. The reality is that Fenty cared more about Blacks than Gray does. Fenty wanted for Blacks to do better but he also wanted for people to earn things.

    Gray's government is not as good as Fenty was, that is the bottom line. No matter what anyone says, nobody can deny that Fenty was more competent than Gray.

  • city blues
  • noodlez

    @MMHH-RULE OF THUMB. NEVER COMMENT AFTER A NIGHT OUT OF DRINKING CRAFT BEERS AND/OR SOME FRUITINI'S, FROM YOUR SMARTPHONE, WHILE SITTING AT A STOP LIGHT IN THAT FANCY-DANCY BIKE LANE.

    YO BUTTERCUP HERE IS A BIT OF F.Y.I.! C.W.I. (COMMENTING WHILE INTOXICATED), T.W.D. (TEXTING WHILE DRIVING) AND B.W.H. (BIKING WITHOUT HELMET) ARE THE NEW NO-NO'S. MAYBE IT IS A TAD BIT LATE ABOUT THE HELMET PART SEEING AS YOU MUST HAVE ALREADY BUMPED YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR ASSERTION "The reality is that Fenty cared more about Blacks than Gray does."

    CLEAN UP ON COMMENT #3! WE HAVE BRAIN LEAKAGE! AS I THINK ABOUT IT MAYBE THIS IS THE RIGHT PLACE FOR YOU. YOUR COMMENT FALLS UNDER THE HAZARDOUS WASTE CATEGORY AND THIS IS SEWERMAN'S COLUMN.

    ONE CITY!

  • Dizzy

    Hindsight is 20/20, LL. You know as well as anyone that early hypothetical polls aren't very useful and a great deal can change in the better part of a year. From where we sit now, we can judge that Fenty's popularity would have plunged and brought him down regardless, but the people seeking to bring him down had no way of knowing this at the time.

    "Gray campaign aides" may tell you one thing, and they may even be telling the truth as far as they knew it. But there was a second, shadow campaign, wasn't there? That was the one tasked with driving up Fenty's unpopularity, especially among blacks. That's a much less straightforward mission than just making sure your supports come out on election day. It required some degree of throwing shit against the wall and seeing what stuck. Some of the shadow campaign's machinations worked. Some did not. This particular one flamed out catastrophically.

  • Mike Madden

    @ Dizzy --

    The polls were pretty consistent on Fenty's approval rating and Fenty vs. Gray, starting even farther back (a September 2009 poll had Fenty at 39 percent approval). His popularity HAD ALREADY plunged by the time Gray even got in the race -- which was the only reason he did. Fenty did a pretty good job of driving his own unpopularity up, mostly by not appearing to care how popular he was, and I think D.C.'s voters are smart enough that hearing Sulaimon Brown say Fenty doesn't love his parents didn't do much to sway their opinion either way.

  • Dizzy

    Mike,

    Yes, Fenty's popularity had already plunged, in large part because he didn't make much of an effort to address it. Perhaps he simply assumed he'd cruise to reelection unopposed. The question was whether he would be able to make up ground and bounce back once he actually put some effort into it, having sensed a real threat to his reelection. It was not a foregone conclusion that he wouldn't be able to - it's not like the man has zero retail political skills.

    You're right, Sillymon Brown probably influenced exactly zero votes, but it seems like the shadow campaign was willing to use him and whatever other means were available to ensure that Fenty's popularity stayed down and that the narrative that had grown about him (not that he didn't care about how popular he was, but that he didn't care about blacks) stuck through Election Day.

    That it did stick is probably more a testament to Fenty's arrogance and tone deafness than to any machinations from Gray's people, but in a relatively close election, every bit helps.

  • capitol hill

    Whatever it takes to finally expose the very scaly Gray works for me. Hopefully the next Mayor wont spend so much time catering to the detritus in wards 7 and 8. Instead spend his efforts attracting new, young affluent residents to the city. Ones who would be active in the schools, pay taxes, renovate homes and add life to this city.

  • Kevin

    Gray was Gored indeed. The sheer delusion involved in thinking that Brown's staying in the race and speaking a few minutes in each debate would put Gray over the top is why I doubt Gray or anyone who had a shred of political know-how was involved in this scheme. Even in June, when the plan supposedly was hatched, Gray was three months away from almost a double-digit victory and Fenty was brushing off debates and making little effort to reach out to his critics.
    Though Gray may have benefited from waiting as long as he did to enter the race, keeping himself free from attack, the hasty way the campaign staff came together seems to have caused him more trouble in the end.

  • Mike Madden

    @ Dizzy --

    True, except the election wasn't actually that close in the end, Gray won by 10 points.

  • Dizzy

    Mike,

    Right, but - again - that's hindsight. 10% is also not that many individual people in a DC primary election. One can imagine a concerted effort by Fenty's camp to get many new residents registered as DC voters/Democrats that might've turned the tide, or else some other tactic that could've made a difference. Ultimately, the point is that the Gray people were not going to be taking a victory for granted, especially since that's what Fenty was busy doing.

    Nixon didn't need to send the Plumbers to break into the DNC either.

  • um hummm

    @#10: The hasty way the campaign staff was thrown together and the neophytes who ran it, including Candidate Gray, were waylaid at the pass by Reuben O. Charles who must have seemed like a knight in shining armor when he rode into town and fed them the kool-aid.
    And now he's gone with the ill wind that blew him in.

  • Drez

    Who says the election began in Sept 2009?
    Most big elections lay groundwork 2 years out.
    When did the sillier stories about fire trucks and tickets begin to hit the press?
    When did the fights over agency appointees begin?

  • Rob A

    The Federal City Council spent a lot of money on Fenty. They have decided to attack the Mayor and destroy him so they can get a puppet in the mayor's office. They already own every City Council member. They run this town and we have elected not one of them to do so.

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