The Thin Blue T-Shirt Line
As part of her guilty plea yesterday to campaign corruption charges, Jeanne Clarke Harris admitted that she helped funnel money to a $635,000 shadow campaign that helped Mayor Vince Gray win the 2010 election. The money was spent on, among other things, buying campaign materials like yard signs, door knockers, and T-shirts. In court records, prosecutors wrote that these materials included many items "bearing logos, graphics, and designs identical to those" used by Gray's official campaign.
On the T-shirts, it turns out, a better descriptor would have been "almost identical, but not quite."
According to campaign aides, who asked not to be identified because of the ongoing federal investigation, the official Gray for Mayor T-shirts that volunteers and aides wore during the early part of the campaign were white with blue lettering.
And then aides noticed something odd: "Suddenly, blue ones started cropping up," says one aide.
These blue ones looked like the original white T-shirts, but with a slightly different font (with serifs, where the white ones were without). See for yourself in the picture above. Here's another picture of a Gray rally just before the primary. Notice how the blue shirts are slightly different from the white ones:
Another Gray aide says field workers who he knew weren't working for the official Gray campaign often wore the blue T-shirts. Court records show the shadow campaign purchased 5,000 T-shirts on Aug. 5, 2010, for $22,891. A week before the primary, the shadow campaign bought another 1,500 T-shirts for $10,530.82.
Later on, the campaign started making blue shirts of its own, which mirrored the font used by the white original, an aide says. See for yourself in this picture from Gray's victory party:
Top two photos via Gray for Mayor; bottom photo by Darrow Montgomery