Feds: Vince Gray Knew About the Shadow Campaign
Mayor Vince Gray knew about the illicit Jeff Thompson-funded effort to get him elected in 2010, prosecutors say in court papers filed today connected to Thompson's plan to plead guilty to corruption charges.
Gray allegedly met with Thompson at Thompson associate Jeanne Clarke Harris' apartment in August 2010, according to Thompson's statement of offense, detailed by federal prosecutors at a court hearing this afternoon. Gray associate Vernon Hawkins had originally relayed the request for $425,000 in illicit help, but Thompson had requested an in-person meeting with Gray before committing the money, court papers say.
Prosecutors say Gray knew the help would be off the books before the meeting. Afterwards, prosecutors say, Gray called Thompson "uncle" in gratitude, a reference to an alias Gray allegedly used to refer to Thompson, "Uncle Earl."
The hearing revealed other payments Thompson allegedly made on Gray's behalf. Among them: payment for a driver and luxury SUV in 2010, a $10,000 payment to a "close relative" of Gray's, and $40,000 in home improvements and work for an unnamed Gray friend.
Once Gray was in office, prosecutors say, Thompson also asked the mayor to speed up a city settlement with his Medicaid contractor that has been another focus of federal investigation.
The hearing also touched on the 2006 mayoral race, where Thompson allegedly paid $200,000 to former D.C. Councilmember Michael Brown to get him to drop out of the race and endorse then-Council Chairwoman Linda Cropp. (Brown, like Harris and Hawkins, is cooperating with prosecutors as part of a plea bargain on other charges.) One of Thompson's companies also made a $150,000 contract with a company Brown worked for, prosecutors say.
UPDATE, 6:05 p.m.: Thompson said two unnamed candidates who received shadow help may not have known about it: Former D.C. Council chairman Linda Cropp in her 2006 mayoral bid and Vincent Orange in his 2011 run. Thompson added that the candidates who received straw donations also did not necessarily know.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery