Loose Lips

In State of the District Speech, Gray Asks Residents Whether They Believe Him or Jeff Thompson

Who do you trust? On one hand, there's self-admitted serial election fraudster Jeff Thompson. On the other, there's Vince Gray: mayor, former nonprofit director, man of the people.

That's the choice Gray set up in his State of the District address tonight at Ward 7's Kelly Miller Middle School, a day after Thompson entered a guilty plea and claimed Gray asked Thompson to fund an illicit shadow campaign to get him elected in 2010. Gray described Thompson's life, then his own.

"So I ask you, who do you believe?" Gray said. "A greedy man attempting to save himself, or me, a public servant who has dedicated my entire career and my entire life to giving back to our communities in the District of Columbia?"

Gray acknowledged that not everyone—specifically, not some people in the whiter areas of town to the west of his home ward, Ward 7—is likely to believe his claims that he didn't ask Thompson for illegal favors. "To some in our city, I'm just another corrupt politician from the other side of town," Gray said.

Gray announced several new policies, including paid parental leave for city employees, $116 million for public education, and another $100 million for affordable housing. And Gray pushed back on rivals' claims that he's only riding a train of economic success that started under Anthony Williams and Adrian Fenty.

But Thompson's accusations weren't far from the rest of the address. The mayor earned his first standing ovation of the night after telling the crowd that he hadn't broken the law. Activist Ron Moten showing up to his archnemesis' speech in an "Uncle Earl" hat, while outside, supporters of mayoral rival Andy Shallal passed out "Uncle Earl"-themed flyers. It was a reminder that not everyone thinks the choice between believing Gray or Thompson (and the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office) is so easy.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • tom m

    One City.... but many lies. gling down mr. mayor. tick tock smh.

  • Mahdi Leroy J. Thorpe, Jr.

    tom m, the folks at the State of the District Address would not agree with you. It's obvious that the power structure in Washington, DC is out to destroy every African-American male politician that they cannot control. Why haven't the power structure in DC come after Jim Graham or David Catania? The power structure in America always finds some handkerchief head Negro to take down another African=American.

  • Corky

    It was good to see Gray finally stand up for himself and push back against the ridiculous media circus led by the Post, Fox 5 and the Citypaper. In case you all didn't get it yesterday, the Mayor WAS NOT INDICTED. Now, could you actually report on what his speech was about? The fact that he has done a hell of a job in office? Is anyone really making the case that the District has not improved in the past 4 years? No. All they can talk about is some scandal that happened 4 years ago. The same shenanigans that funded Fenty, Bowser, Evans, Orange and Hillary Clinton. But somehow, ONLY Gray "knew" what was going on? Give me a break!!

  • Tight Lips

    Gray is Toast. There are other African American candidates running for Mayor.

  • tony

    @Mahdi Leroy J. Thorpe, Jr.,

    Right on!

    Mayor Gray is a strong black man who is fighting for the future of his people in this city. And, we stand with him 100 percent.

    Long live "Chocolate City"!

  • T

    I'm voting for Mayor Gray on 4/1. If Machen has anything on him, then indict already! That would change my vote, but until then I'm very happy with what he's done these past 3+ years as Mayor (and previously as Council Chair).

    I don't think this whole issue with the 2010 election has anything to do with race... it's clear to me that the campaign was dirty, but it's also not clear that Gray had anything to do with it or that any of the shenanigans extended into his time as Mayor.

    Four years ago I voted for Fenty in the primary, but Gray has earned my vote this time around through his great work as Mayor.

  • tony

    "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
    -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • BobbyDylanRocks!

    Thank You Mayor Gray for saying publicly what this Ward 2 White Guy has known all along. A percentage of Ward 2 & Ward 3 White Voters love and perpetuate the Fenty Campaign/Kaplan School Post Lie that Vince Gray is an archaic, civil rights era, reverse-racist, welfare loving politician.

    These same White voters want to pretend they are progressive Democrats; and thus, they vote in good conscience for perceived progressive African American candidates like Fenty and Fenty-In-Drag Bowser. When in fact, these White voters are looking for Uncle/Aunty Tom's who will do their bidding when elected; and kick working class African American a**.

  • Saywhat

    It would have been nice if the citizens of the District of Columbia would have had a say and a seat at the State of the District, but instead nothing but threaten Govt. Workers were there. Ridiculous

  • Brians.Ions

    Vince Gray is as believable on Shadow-gate as Chris Christie is on Bridge-gate.

    He's a crook, and he's likely going to jail sooner or later. Do we really want DC local politics to become a late-night laughing-stock again?

  • WhiteResident

    It's disappointing to read anyone on this string perpetuating a racial divide in our city. I'm white and have lived in DC since the late 80's. This is not a racial issue - this is an issue of political corruption which has long gripped this city and I for one applaud Ron Machen's relentless pursuit of justice. I don't agree Gray has done anything more than rebrand Fenty's initiatives and continue with their execution. When are we going to wake up and not be culled by "spin" but rather be singularly influenced by facts?

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  • DCShadyBoots

    I’m not ready to condemn the Mayor until I see some evidence what Jeffrey Thompson said in court was actually true. Where is that one-page budget that the mayor "allegedly" gave to him? Where’s a credible witness? Where is the paper trail?

    I won't vote early, but today I’m still inclined to vote for Vincent Gray.

    There are too many unfilled holes in Thompson's "ALLEGATIONS" against the Mayor and Hillary Clinton's aid.

    It appears he has much to gain and little to lose by creating a false reality if it would keep him out of prison. And I can hardly believe that the prosecutors would make such a deal unless what he said he could offer didn't specifically implicate the Mayor.

  • Tbonebullets

    I tried to watch the speech but couldn't stay awake.

  • DCShadyBoots

    @ White Resident, you said all the Mayor has done is "rebrand Fenty's initiatives and continue with their execution". If, as you say, you've been here since the 80's, and you were honest with yourself, you would have said the Mayor has rebranded Tony William's initiatives and continued with their execution. We know where your loyalties lie. It is very clear.

  • WhiteResident

    @DCShadyBoots - fair enough, actually! But you prove the point - the initiatives aren't Gray's but rather mayor's before him. But just to clarify - it's really not about loyalty for me though I did vote for Fenty he also had some smoke around him. It's about honest government which is a pipe dream admittedly. I'm leaning toward Muriel Bowser - definitely not Gray, most certainly not Catania. Remain on the fence at the moment other than - say it again - definitely not Gray.

  • DCShadyBoots

    To that, most long term economic development in any jurisdiction in this nation is compounded between multiple political administrations. Adrian Fenty, for the most part, stayed out of the way of progress. Except he tanked the DC United Deal that Anthony Williams brokered with Victor MacFarlane prior to leaving office. A MUCH better deal,IMO, than the one that is on the table today. All out of political hubris.

    I do like the trajectory that the city is on and see no reason to change tires in the middle of the race. As I have stated, I’m not going to condemn the Mayor until I see some evidence that what Jeffrey Thompson said in court was actually true. The prosecutor says they have this strong case, but the only evidence is the testimony of Mr. Thompson, whose credibility, in my mind based on the situation he finds himself in, is pretty questionable.

  • tth

    I still the timing of the US Attorney's Office grossly improper. They had alomst four years to investigate this and you launch these allegations 1 week before voting! You cannot control the outcome of this election. Mayor Gray will win this primary by a very slim margin. He'll come out victorious but tainted and tired. THEN the he'll have to face the establishment's true endorsed candidate, CM Catania. (Sorry Bowser, you are just a chess piece in their game. You were never their prize candidate.)

    CM Catania, will raise a hell of a lot of money from Independents, Republicans, and Democrats from all over this country to fight the death match until November. Wake up people -- this is the real plan...


    This is a "witch hunt" and the US Atty should be ashamed of himself. It is obvious very personal for him and why? He does not even live or vote in DC. His office is trying to influence a local election where he has "nothing" invested!!

    Out of all of the politicians and elections that Thompson's money influenced, Gray is the only politician that "knew" about it? Who really believes that? Why would you believe that?
    This is some BULLSHIT!!

    Also, Thompson is not going to jail. WTF? House arrest and probation for the "kingpin" of DC campaign fraud? Are you serious? But Gray is the "bad guy"? Not Hillary, Fenty, Cropp, Norton, Orange, O'Malley, Reid etc.

    No way! They are not going to "influence" my decision with this crap!!

    Lets GO GRAY!! 4 more years!!

  • Tbonebullets

    Catania has no chance. If Gray survives the primary, another independent will enter the race to challenge Gray and Bowser. Bowser would still be the favorite in a 4-person race, just as she will be in a three-person race, or a two-person race.

  • James Ward 2

    The city's settlement of the lawsuit against Thompson Chartered Healthcare is what makes this a bigger issue. Gray lead a fraudulent election. Gray committed fraud by settling a lawsuit in a manner favorable to his financer of a shadow campaign.

    Don't forget the quid pro quo dealing with settling the lawsuit.

  • http://Citypaper Ward:4

    @Tbonebullet I do have to agree with everything you said and I am voting for mayor Vincent Gray . What have you stayed it made complete sense gray has my vote.

  • Northwesterneer

    Adrian Fenty, for the most part, stayed out of the way of progress.
    No, Adrian Fenty created and led the progress that we are enjoying today. Good lord, read the newspaper once, ok?

  • DistrictNative

    It's not accurate to say that everyone who wants Gray gone likes Fenty/Rhee/Whomever. That really has nothing to do with unspeakable municipal corruption. Gray clearly has had his bite of the pie, and it looks like they've got plenty of evidence that his campaign was as dirty as it could've been. In my eyes, the question of Gray knowing or not has more to do with a criminal indictment, which is a separate issue from who should be running this city. I think Gray is likable and has done a good job holding the wheel, but I'd like my Mayor without an overwhelming stink of corruption please

  • John

    I would imagine that Thompson had to show the attorney general some proof of his statements. Maybe the public has not seen it but that does not mean the AG just took Thompson on his word. Gray probably has his atty. plea bargaining as we speak. We need a mayor who can run the city without all the corruption baggage and bad behavior. Gray has only followed what Fenty started and even kept many of Fenty's people in positions to continue the action. Allen Lew as Administrator is a perfect example. Bowser is a better candidate and should be elected.

  • 4dc

    I have followed politics in my adopted hometown pretty closely for over 20 years and I have to say that @Northwesterneer is completely off the mark. Adrian Fenty had NOTHING to do with creating anything, much less progress. Have you forgotten the stench around him brought by dealings with the likes of Sinclair Skinner and Ronald Moten? Also, in his mind, his greatest achievement was hiring Michelle Rhee which, according to the facts, was not his idea but came from Bloomberg's handlers in NY. And he and Rhee both were forced to admit that all the "ideas" they made so much noise about, were actually part of Clifford Janey's blueprint for education. The beautiful athletic fields and new recreation centers? Started by Anthony Williams. Righting the city's finances and credit; Anthony Williams. So yes, Adrian Fenty just stayed out of the way of progress (unless you count dog parks).

  • SEis4ME

    No, Adrian Fenty created and led the progress that we are enjoying today. Good lord, read the newspaper once, ok

    Spoken like someone who needs to take his own advice. Adrian Fenty didn't create and lead the progress we are "enjoying today" any more than home rule is responsible for the streetcars on H street.

  • 4dc

    Four years of investigation, an unfathomable number of man hours and what I imagine must be an open-ended budget and no indictment of Mr. Gray? Thompson is a schill and tried to ruin this city for his own personal gain but his stench is on a lot of people. Even Ms. Bowser who says she is not giving back his money because it was legal should re-think that. Legal or not, wouldn't a savvy politician give it back so there is no question about propriety? Which brings me to my real question-- for all of you on this thread who believe Ms. Bowser would be a better mayor, can you please point to anything she has done as a council member that you believe would make her the best leader for all people in the city?

  • Typical DC BS

    Amazing how many commenters here display such blind ignorance. Almost ALL of Gray's campaign workers and his MAIN FINANCIER have plead guilty, but somehow this crook is the ONLY one "telling the truth"?
    Didn't we hear the same crap from Brown and the other scum on the DC Council before they ALL plead guilty to bank fraud and their own campaign shenanigans?

    No wonder DC is a laughingstock - when you have mental midgets whining about "racism" when confronted with criminal behavior, you sound like children who refuse to face FACTS. Maybe next we'll see some moron try to blame Bush for these losers accepting money from Thompson.

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  • SEis4ME

    Typical, DC hasn't been a laughingstock since the days of Barry. Williams, Fenty, and Gray have led our recent renaissance and if "data" matters at all, DC is consistently trending "upward" maintains its status of a place people WANT to live. It's hard to argue people are flocking to a place of comedy.

    That said, you have every right to believe Vince is lying and others have the same right to believe is isn't. But until Machen presents the evidence, we are all spinning in the wind.

  • DCShadyBoots

    I'd rather be the laughing stock in a city with a billion dollar surplus, than a person casting shade from a state that is broke.

  • DC4now

    I agree that Gray is innocent until proven otherwise but that's not what is shameful here. I didn't hear one word about the city's biggest problem...illiteracy. Yes, 15% unemployment is less 26% unemployment in ward 8 but it's still double the national average. I heard half truths about interpretation of the city's school scores. I heard a lot about real estate development. I guess the state of the district is brought to you by city's real estate developers. Clearly, if the mayor does become indicted he should resign, it's an embarrassment that wouldn't be tolerated in most places. I don't think Bowser is much better.

  • cminus

    Given my available choices, I believe Ron Machen more than either Thompson or Gray. Which is why I simply can't vote for Gray, even though he's been a pretty good mayor -- better than Fenty, if not quite at Williams levels -- and I'm really worried about what a Bowser administration will do.

  • ward4pet

    Interesting points. What is true---Bowser would not be an effective mayor. She may not have the teeth that her mentor had (her only asset), but she is a watcher--who speaks well. Not yet MB. Not yet. Get some real legislation under your belt and do a little more for Ward 4. Hey thats a slogan if you run again. Fenty---lets keep him in the valley. Ahhhh the Williams years. Gray, i wish you would have come on stronger earlier. Dont like what u did, but u r not the only person or the first person to have a shadow campaign. You have my vote---because you have steered the course and have handled things. Evans/Wells/Orange.....REally. Others, I need not comment.


    The Fenty losers are relentless...... get over it, your boy lost!!

    Bowser is worse than Fenty and she will lose too!!

    The Green Idiot Machine is done!!

  • Typical DC BS

    If you think Williams, Fenty and Gray had ANYTHING to do with DC's booming economy, you're sadly mistaken. Please - the ONLY industry in this town is the federal government, period. Without the giant increase in federal spending over the last 15 years in this area, this entire metropolitan area would still be in the doldrums, like the rest of the country.

    And the ONLY reason DC has a surplus is because the FEDS (remember good ole Mayor Barry and the rest of the DC City Council fools who had ALL spending control taken away from them for YEARS?) required it.

  • Corky

    Typical DC BS: go back to your Red State


    RealDC, the U.S. Attorney does live in Ward 4 D.C. Shepherd Park. The same applies to one of his Assistant U.S. Attorneys. They both are members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

  • noodlez




  • DCShadyBoots

    DC has a surplus because we balance our budget EVERY year. Don't hate, participate.