Loose Lips

Candidate/Mayor Vince Gray on 2010 Campaign: “I’ve Said What I’ve Said”

Gray at today's press briefing.

Gray at today's press briefing

A day after announcing plans to run for re-election, a testy Mayor Vince Gray repeatedly refused to answer any questions about his scandal-plagued 2010 campaign at a press briefing this morning, or even to point to specific policy accomplishments of his administration.

"I've said what I've said," Gray responded curtly to a question about his 2010 election campaign, which is the subject on an ongoing federal investigation. "I've said it repeatedly. I want to talk about the future."

Gray, speaking at the nearly complete CityMarket at O development in Shaw to highlight the successes of the first year of the five-year economic development strategy he launched across the street in November 2012, deflected question after question about the 2010 campaign and the investigation, arguing that voters would judge him on his record. "Look at the job creation," he said. "Look at the education. Look at the economic development."

But when I asked him—given that some people trace at least some of the city's recent economic successes to broader trends and the policies of predecessors Tony Williams and Adrian Fenty—whether it was fair for him to take credit for all the growth in jobs and tax revenue, he bristled at the question. "You're wrong!" he shouted. "You're just plain wrong! Excuse me for saying this: You are just plain wrong!"

I invited him to name specific policies he'd implemented that contributed to the city's economic growth, and he responded by questioning my loyalty to the city. "Come on, you know what, I want to tell you something," Gray said. "I've been to other cities where the media are actually, they're not part of the payroll of the city, but they don't sit there and try to pick a hole in anything they can get their hands on. I'm going to invite you to do the same thing. I appreciate objectivity, but that is just plain wrong, man. It's debilitating to say something like that."

Prior to taking questions, Gray gave a nearly hour-long presentation on the progress toward his goals laid out in the five-year economic strategy. He claimed to have completed 20 of the 52 initiatives, although more than a few were worded vaguely; the first one he checked off was "celebrate business that employ D.C. residents." While Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor Hoskins projects that the city will slightly exceed its goal of creating 100,000 jobs over five years, he concedes that the District is on track to fall substantially short of its target of $1 billion in new tax revenue. (It's also not clear how much credit the administration's job-creating programs should get for the jobs.)

When he didn't dodge questions, Gray provided half-answers about his re-election campaign. "I'm a deliberative person," he said in response to a question on why it took him so long to announce his plans to run. "I'm not going to supplant the jobs of law enforcement," he replied when asked if he was disappointed in the people involved with his 2010 team who've been indicted by the federal authorities for running a shadow campaign.

And in response to another question about his campaign, he responded with the city's go-to line to deflect any criticism: "I'm a native Washingtonian!"

Photo by Aaron Wiener

  • acg

    Not to be a dick, but it sounds like this is Aaron's first political interview. Reminds me of this episode of Newsroom when the novice reporter gets kicked off the bus.


    Aaron I think you need to build a relationship with him and get a sit-down interview for you to get anywhere with those questions. Everyone is asking the Mayor those same question now.

  • DCShadyBoots

    Poor Aaron. You were read.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/ Aaron Wiener

    @acg: I've spoken to the mayor many times before, and he's generally been courteous. That's why his sharp reaction today surprised not only me, but all the reporters present.

  • HowardAlum99

    Journalists should keep asking Gray questions about his 2010 campaign.

    Gray owes the public the truth about his participation in the election fraud. Gray needs to man up.

    Keep it up, journalists. Don't let Gray the bully intimidate you. Don't let his posse intimidate you.

  • drez

    Vincent Gray, assignment editor.
    Part II.

  • Child Please

    Try the veal.

  • SEis4ME

    Aaron you should stop w/this "oh my, I don't know why" crap.

    You came to the WCP leading the charge in attacking Gray...nitpicking any and every story purposely designed to make him look bad. So it's no wonder he gave you a "curtly" response. You've been the FoxNews to any and all of his efforts.

    Do you actually think this article represents a journalist interested in how the city has been run and not scoring O'Reilly attack-the-dog points? Seriously dude, reread your article and ask yourself what pol would be interested in catering to you. And then you get pissy when you get your a** handed back to you? Really dude? WOWWWWW!

    But Gray should get accustomed to reporters being more interesting in what happened before he got in than how he's governed since. It goes w/the territory.

  • SEis4ME

    *I was surprised by his sharp reaction*

    OMG! #dead

  • RealDC

    Good and fair questions if you ask ALL candidates the same type of questions.

    Wells: His H street bar/grants/fundraiser shenanigans.
    Evans: His PAC created for his travel and entertainment jaunts. How about his sports tickets purchased by his donors from his "service fund". Patton Boggs (his employer) represents who in the Marriott deal??
    Bowser: Thompson money. Developer money. Wilmot(Walmart) favors. Why do the public and charter schools in ward 4 struggle to survive and you offer no assistance? Look at schools..... shameful.
    Orange: Thompson money.

    Drill down on all of the candidates.......no passes!

  • Mike Madden


    So you agree with Gray that all the new jobs and economic development he was touting today were due entirely to his administration? Broader trends have nothing to do with it, and nothing any mayor did before Jan. 2, 2011, did, either?

  • S.E.

    "Journalists should keep asking Gray questions about his 2010 campaign.

    Gray owes the public the truth about his participation in the election fraud. Gray needs to man up.

    Keep it up, journalists. Don't let Gray the bully intimidate you. Don't let his posse intimidate you".

    He's said what he's said. If the IG has something on him after a Three (3) year long investigation, then HE OWES THE PUBLIC THE TRUTH!

  • SEis4ME

    Mike, no I don't but do believe the suggestion itself is rather interesting.

    Have you ever met a Mayor (candidate for politcal office) who has not "glamorized" his/her accomplishments? No right? Should we chop off their heads?

    Have you ever met a candidate who has credited the previous administration w/accomplishments only realized during their own term? No right?

    The issue here is the entire context of the question and your "expected" answer. I don't expect Gray NOT to glamorize his own accomplishments in no way different than what Fenty, Obama, Hillary Clinton and a host of others have done. I similarly don't recall any of them crediting their predecessors.

    So why is this even an issue? As a reporter, do you not have any information on what Gray has actually conceived and implemented? Or do you simply want him to provide you a few bullet points in order to prove what? That "he didn't built that?"

    I find it peculiar because Fenty (at a minimum) was credited w/managing projects began under Williams. Specifically, I don't recall anyone here questioning whether he was effective on the education front even though we all knew he was against having a "chancellor" before he was for it.

    To her credit, Rhee (early on) suggested she would build upon the Master Facilities Plan drafted by her predecessor Janey. Yet, that will forever be an unknown fact because many have wrongly accepted that it was her idea all along.

    This is where the consistency argument comes into play.

  • truth hurts

    "I've said what I've said." Translation: "On advice of counsel, I'm asserting my Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions that may incriminate me." One City at his finest.

  • Mike Madden

    @ SEis4ME:

    I don't think Wiener chopped anyone's head off; he asked a question at a press briefing that Gray held in order to claim credit for all the economic development going on. If Gray had said something like, "There was a good foundation set for all this by predecessors like Tony Williams, but my administration did X, Y, and Z to build on it, and expand it," no one would have even remembered the exchange. He didn't even have to give Fenty any credit if he didn't want to! Plenty of people here and elsewhere pointed out that Fenty was continuing progress started by Williams; I'd be surprised if Gray himself didn't make that same point in 2010.

    And then, when asked to give specific examples -- which, theoretically, should have been a softball question, because Gray should have been able to list a few of 'em -- Gray said reporters should be boosters for their city. Which a) isn't reporters' job and b) even if it were reporters' job, wouldn't necessarily mean being boosters for the mayor.

    As for the idea that Wiener is leading the charge against Gray, Wiener is doing his job, i.e., "nitpicking" what elected officials say. He does that about every elected official he writes about, as the fact that Tommy Wells no longer speaks to him after this cover profile should demonstrate.

  • SEis4ME

    I wasn't at the briefing but Aaron wrote that it was to talk about the first year of his 5-yr strategy. Now if he was suggesting that in one year all of this occurred then yeah he deserves some pounding.

    However, if he talked about it in response to questions (as Aaron wrote) about the shadow campaign, then in the scheme of things, "Look at all the jobs, economic development, education, [look at how the city has fared under my management] then the nitpicking is FoxNews at best.

    Clearly not wanting to answer "those" questions, I don't know why he would preface the accomplishments seen under HIS term in what seemed like a hostile barrage of questions.

    If you wanna say he seemed out of sorts and and frustrated...yeah cool. But to expect ANY pol in a similar situation to parse their accomplishments? Where they do dat at brotha? Sounds like media overkill..but that's just me man.

  • Tbonebullets

    Weiner, you and all of the other reporters keep it up: in NYC, there was another Weiner -- Anthony Weiner -- who couldn't take the heat. The interrogation shouldn't end until Gray goes full-on Apology Tour and 'fesses up, what he knew, and when he knew it. The public has a right to know! But, unless he's clean as a whistle, he's not going to talk, because as a result he just might have to perp the walk.

    Now, look at what we've got here: A politician unwilling to discuss his own record! If you ask him about it, he's a victim! Only in D.C., man, only in D.C...

  • Art

    "I've said what I've said", huh? This should make for an interesting 4 months.

  • DCShadyBoots

    Notice that folks are complaining about the politicians they elect and not the services the government is providing.

    Suggest that the services they take for granted are moving along smoothly under this Mayor.

    He has stood behind the projects he supported first as Ward 7 councilman, then as Council chair and now as Mayor.

    He has my vote.

  • Typical DC BS

    Right, lets all genuflect to Mayor Gray and his usual stonewalling. Like the good DC Dumocrat that he is, he doesn't have to put up with being grilled, especially on his nonsensical claims of economic improvement being the result of his policies.
    He can't name ONE policy he initiated that has led to improved economics because, like the good hack politician he is, the giant federal government spending in and around DC during his ENTIRE TENURE is SOLELY responsible for DC not feeling much pain compared to EVERY OTHER US CITY.

    Sorry, he was elected as the DIRECT result of a massive criminal fraud scheme and has still NOT ANSWERED FOR IT.

    Can't wait for the whining from his usual sycophants when Machen announces his indictment in the future.

  • Steve

    As a longtime resident of DC, I am disappointed my mayor did not respond to this reporter's legitimate questions.

  • Corky

    Headline: "Two Bit Reporter Gets Told Off In Front of His Colleagues-Writes Hit Job Article in Response" Grow a pair and get over it. The Citypaper doesn't play fair with the truth and with politicians when it has an agenda (as it obviously does against Gray). Gray and every other politician in town knows this, so don't expect rose petals to be thrown in your path at news conferences. BTW, I guess you completely overlooked the fact that two Walmarts opened in DC today. This was 100% Grays' doing. Dozens of new restaurants, bars, condos and apartments have been built in DC in the last few years--the one's your Citypaper readers are scrimping pennies to afford to live in. Does Mayor Gray get any credit for that in your crap paper? No. No wonder he snapped at you.

  • SEis4ME

    Typical, he won't answer for it.

    So you, WCP, WPOST et al can stop asking. What he's going to tell you is that it would be inappropriate for him to comment on an ongoing federal investigation...and...he maintains now knowing anything about the shadow campaign.

    No, that won't (and arguably shouldn't) satisfy us. But that's the hand we're dealt in every single such case, with every single politician...like ever. If there doesn't happen to be an indictment, he will then say that as far he and the US Atty are concerned, the matter is closed and proves that he had no involvement in...guess what...the shadow campaign.

    To realistically expect him to comment any further beyond that is either willful ignorance or an part of a vendetta against Gray.

    That is all...

  • DCShadyBoots

    For what good reason to Gray have to respond to the "City Paper"?

  • Typical DC BS

    @SEis4ME: You are absolutely correct - Mayor Gray will not answer for the reasons you stated. However, a GOOD reporter will ask that question EVERY time he encounters the mayor at a press conference. When there's a giant elephant in the room (i.e. the mayoral campaign's numerous felonies), it needs to be brought up until it goes away.

  • SEis4ME

    Typical..I disagree.

    A good reporter realizes the lay of the land and instead of deciding to throw punches at a brick wall, take the voters on a path of understanding how the current or future mayor's policies will help or hurt them. Did the public have a right to know about Fenty's "firetruckgate?" Sure! Did he even go beneath the surface and discuss it while the investigation was going on? Of course not. How about afterwards? Of course not.

    The public has a right to know a lot of things and more often than not..we don't. Let's not allow reporters to take us on a goose chase full well knowing that the end result will the same as it is each and every time in the history of such scandals. In that vein, do we really expect this to be different?

    If Gray wins, he will win because he has effectively managed the city's affairs..which is why he won the first time around.

  • drez

    Ask every time, or acquiesce to what he would have you be:
    An organ in his campaign's PIO.

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