Loose Lips

Northwest Current Withdraws Its Gray Endorsement

Vince Gray asked District residents last night to believe in his innocence, but the staff of the Northwest Current isn't buying it. After endorsing Gray's re-election bid last week, the paper announced today that shadow campaign financier Jeff Thompson's guilty plea has inspired them to withdraw it.

As usual, the Current's website doesn't have the editorial yet, but you can read it on Twitter. After conceding Gray's point that he's more believable than confessed serial election crook Thompson, the editorial says it's hard to believe that federal investigators would only take Thompson's word in the case:

We are now less certain about Mr. Gray’s innocence. And the burden of proof for voters is far less than in a court of law: Our mayor should be above reproach. Accordingly we must retract our endorsement of Vincent Gray for the Democratic mayoral nomination.

The paper will be endorsing another mayoral candidate, according to the editorial.

In retaliation, Gray's campaign, which spent $4,578.96 on ads in the Current between the start of February and this Monday, has canceled their current ad order with the paper. Gray campaign manager Chuck Thies asked LL to relay a message for Current publisher and editor Davis Kennedy, who didn't respond to an immediate request for comment.

"Brilliant," Thies says. "Brilliant. You now believe Jeff Thompson. That’s wonderful. I hope Jeff Thompson starts buying ads in the Current. We have canceled ours."

The withdrawn endorsement is especially awkward for the Gray campaign a week after Thies praised the Current as a paper "with its finger on the pulse" of the city.

"They had their finger on the pulse of the city," Thies says. "Now, apparently, they stuck both fingers in their own eyes."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • The Scoreboard

    How does pulling ads from the paper help Gray in any way? They don't need Gray's revenue.

    Talk about cutting off your nose despite your face. Those ads may have been the only Gray-positive ink in the Current over the next 20 days. Now there won't be any.

    I guess Chuck really showed them.

  • Love it

    Thies is polishing brass on the Titanic!

  • DC

    Really not understanding the campaign strategy here. The Current pulling its endorsement is bad news, why give even more attention to it by responding in such a petulant and childish way? And not for nothing, but if the clouds over Gray are about how money was spent on his behalf, using campaign spending as a weapon is not helping the cause.

    Let's hope they use that saved money for a real solid plan, like a "Don't Leave Us Vincent" video.

  • Marvin E. Adams

    A little more professionalism should have been exhibited by the mayor's campaign. Instead of pulling ads, perhaps a meeting with the Current's board might have been the order of the day. Subsequently, a letter written by Mayor for inclusion in The Current would have been a better decision than huffing and puffing and pulling the little ads.

    BTW, whatever happened to taking the high road in circumstances such as this?

  • Tom M

    This reminds me of the likely progression of rats experiencing a sinking ship. First, the rats that are more knowledgeable decide better to get off the ship before it leaves the dock. Even if some "smartish" rats stay on as the ship sails, they detect the "downward" tilt and jump ship even in the middle of the ocean. That's the Current. Some fairly dull witted rats revel in the increased space to spread out and the less competition for rancid bits of food on board. They get fat and go down with the ship. Chuck Thies is simply a fairly dull witted, fattening up rodent-like creature. Oh, and likely among the big losers on April 1st....

  • truth hurts

    Classic Thies. Editorial board has its finger on the pulse when it endorses one city. Same editorial board is ignorant when it doesn't endorse one city. Such is Thies.

  • Wow

    Kind of amazing that the Gray campaign response to the Current is essentially a different version of the pay to play schemes that have Gray in trouble. Oh, you're not going to polish the mayor's knob? No business for you!

  • Roscoe’s Wetsuit

    @Wow, that's Chuck for you. One City couldn't get a competent campaign manager, so they went with the sixth round pick. This is what you get.

  • Samantha

    Everyone knew that the Current was controlled by the WAPO EDB .What happened to innocence untill found guilty ?Ask Catania about his ABSCAMB money ! RACISM IS ALIVE and WELL IF A BLACK MAN IS GUILTY BY UNPROVEN INUENDO . The Current won't withdraw it's endorsement of HILLARY over the CRUZ/ PAUL /FOX ticket unless the Price Is Right ! Look out MARY CHEH .

  • Tight Lips

    Another campaign where the WaPo and their once respected opinions will mean nothing.

    They are stuck in a jam because all of the notable candidates has a Thompson contribution.

    They can't all run to Bowser, doing so will cause her to lose.

    If they endorse Jack Evans, he will lose because he will not get any of the black vote.

    If they endorse Wells, he is going to lose for sure because no one considers him a valuable candidate.

    Decisions, Decisions, Decisions.....

  • drez

    @Roscoe's Wetsuit
    He must have had at least six rounds before making such an intemperate and ill-considered comment about withdrawing advertising.

  • Terry Miller

    If youlood at the Washington Post for today, in Section B2 in the last paragraph of an article about Orange, it is stated that court documents also indicated that Fenty, Bowser, and Catania (among others) had received illegal campaign donations! So both Bowser and Catania are operating under the same cloud! But why is this informaiton buried? Why not a headline or two about these court documents?

  • drez

    Terry Miller: You need to reread the story. It does not say what you say it does.

    Re: Thies: He should listen to his own advice.
    One journalist asks him whether attacking reporters’ objectivity could derail his campaign strategy. “Are you kidding?” Thies says. “You guys are the strategy.”
    “I’m going to make that answer so easy for you that you cannot fuck up,” Thies recalls telling the campaign’s staff. “Measure what you do by a single yard stick: Is this in the best interests of Vince Gray and his re-election?”

  • truth hurts

    Terry, to answer your question. It's because Thompson wasn't charged with financing shadow campaigns in coordination the other politicians you name nor did Thompson testify they knew about the straw donations he made (except for Orange).

  • DC

    A statement made by a party in open court about events he witnessed is not innuendo, it's direct evidence. Discount his credibility if you want, but a US Attorney doesn't. For some reason I'm going to trust Machen's judgment about this over yours.

  • DC

    Also, the Current has never endorsed Hillary for anything seeing as they are a local paper and only make endorsements for local elections.

  • The Scoreboard

    @Terry Miller: Because the campaigns had no idea that the donations in question were actually from straw donors.

    It was only revealed after those campaigns what Thompson had done. The money was reported, and was in the correct amounts, but Thompson hid how he acquired the money.

    There isn't any culpability for anyone but Thompson in those cases. It's very different than a coordinated conspiracy to defraud the District, as occurred between "Uncle Earl" and Gray.

  • Terry Miller

    Statements made in open court, unless under oath, are meaningless. The statements made by prosecutors about their cases is "representation" and not the same as statements made under oath. Basically, the prosecutor is putting forth his case, which may or may not be proven at trial. There is no testimony taken in a plea deal, except that the defendant has to admit to all of the specifications, which is why it took so long. So the prosecutors believe they can prove that Gray knew, but there is no evidence, except for Thompson's own self-serving statements, that he did.

    Regarding the Washington Post article: "Court documents filed in the Calhoun and Straughter prosecutions indicated that Thompson facilitated illegal donations to seven other local candidates, including Fenty, Bowser.

    Calhoun and Straughter are Thompson associates who admitted in last year to donating Thompson's money in their own names...

    Now all of these folks are going to DENY that they knew anything about this, as the Mayor has. There is nothing in the article that says that any of the candidates who took tainted donations were even investigated as to their knowledge or lack thereof.

  • GoldCoastKid

    I think you're reading old news.
    Sorry, I can't see the article yet because the Washington Post wants me to pay them 99cents.

  • Tight Lips

    @TruthHurts what's your mindset in knowing that Thompson pretty much cleared Orange's name but said that Gray "knew" about everything?

    I just find it weird in a sense that Gray is asking people "who do you believe" when Thompson spilled the Beans vs. How people perceive Orange since his name was cleared.

    To most people, they go to sleep better at night thinking that Gray didnt know and that regardless of what Thompson said, Orange is still a "corrupt bullfrog".

    And also does this change how you view the other candidates who accepted money in the past & Tommy Wells, since he proclaims that he never accepted anything?

  • truth hurts

    TL: Not clear about your "mindset" question, but I'll try to address your comment. During Thompson's plea, the prosecutors said and/or the criminal information asserted that Orange accepted Thompson straw donations KNOWING the straw donations were illegal, ie, from Thompson's conduits. Under questioning from the judge, Thompson testified a close associate (presumably Jeanne Harris) told him Orange knew the straw donations were fake, as opposed to Thompson having first-hand knowledge of Orange's complicity. I don't see this as anybody "clearing" Orange, nor would I compare Orange's actions, whatever they were, to Gray's knowledge of the shadow campaign and his alleged complicity in it.

    As for other candidates who received, and reported, Thompson's straw donations, there has been no claim from any cooperating witnesses -- or the US atty -- those candidates knew about Thompson was making straw donations to them. I firmly believe, however, the council should ban candidates from accepting $$ from city contractors and lobbyists .... for the reasons vividly on display. Wells and Grosso are the only elected officials not accepting this kind of dough. I respect the example they are setting.

  • drez

    @Goldcoastkid: clear your browser cache and try again. WP tracks page views with cookies and this will reset the clock on their firewall.

  • drez

    Thompson's straw donations, made using individuals people as "conduits", instead of LLCs (or other corporations) are already illegal and only have corporate fingerprints on them because of court testimony. Correct? If these things are true, how would- in practice- banning city contractors and lobbyists from contributing change the playing field?
    Corporations (and the people who own them), and lobbyists, are already illegally using their friends, coworkers, and associates as pass-throughs for laundered contributions. Absent investigation, those contributions look like they came from people.
    How would saying they can't do what they are already concealing that they do change anything?
    Just asking. It's a major problem I have with Tommy's "I don't take corporate money- only money from people" spiel.


    Anybody but Muriel Boswer. I would vote for Charles Manson, RuPaul, Dr. Abraham Van-Helsing, Dracula, Wolfman before I vote for Muriel Bowser.

  • orange is the new gray area

    sigh. don't nobody get it? the egg is on the current.

    forget gray, forget orange, the story is the current.

    the need to back a winner in this town is......never mind.

  • truth hurts

    drez: Take a look at the campaign finance reports of every candidate. Strike out all corporate, city contractor, PAC, and lobbyist contributions from their campaign finance reports, leaving in only personal campaign contributions. I think you'll be shocked by what you find.

    Wells, like all candidates, has flaws. But on the most important issue in DC (i.e., the corrosive influence of moneyed interests on politicians), he's spot on. And if you truly believe that Wells' stance on corporate/contractor/lobbyist donations doesn't differ in kind from the other candidates, why is he the only one refusing their dough?

  • drez

    I hear you, TH, and I appreciate...
    But tell me, did Jeff Thompson do his illegal contributing using (essentially fake) LLCs or (essentially fake) people?
    I think I know the answer.
    And how do we fix that?

  • drez

    Nice talk, @TH. I appreciate the collaboration. We've a long way yet to go.

  • Brians.Ions

    And here's some more bad news for our 'Shadow Fraud Mayor'…

    March 12 2014

    Washington, D.C. – The D.C. Police Union, Fraternal Order of Police, Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee has endorsed Council member Tommy Wells for Mayor of the District of Columbia.

    D.C. Police Union Chairman-elect Delroy Burton said, “The District is an amazing city with limitless potential. Over the past five years, some District politicians have done more to hurt the District and its residents than to help. That has to change. Tommy Wells is the candidate that can restore public trust in District government and its employees, while helping the District and all of its residents prosper. He is the only politician not accepting corporate or bundled money and has consistently demanded and voted for tougher ethics laws and rules.”

    Burton added, “Under Vincent Gray, overall crime has increased in the District, while it has fallen across the nation. That is unacceptable...
    Tommy Wells has not shied away from tackling systemic problems with the District’s public safety agencies. He has worked with the police on everything from reducing crime to cutting overtime costs to proposing greater oversight and transparency.”

    It's no surprise that our SHADOW FRAUD MAYOR and his CHIEF OF POLITICAL POLICE have been covering up crimes so as to brag about their false crime statistics. When you have a rich 'Uncle Earl' you can bend crime news any way you need to.

  • Too Cool

    Let me state the obvious the Gray campaign is doing no one A favor.

    they know he will be indicted before the general and yet they are pushing on. Are they fricking crazy or selfish to put the city through this s$hit

    I will not vote for him any longer. And I will look for a new candidate.

    The Gray campaign believed Machen was overly political in his timing and will find lots of agreement. But with that being said you can't be a defendant in a trial, a candidate for mayor and Mayor.

    It selfish to think you can be.

    I think he will still pull more votes than Tommy Wells. I actually think Tommy hurt himself by looking like an opportunistic prick that only entry way to mayor's office was the downfall of others. That is not how ppl vote. Ppl vote for somebody not against a host of other people.

    With Gray no longer an option draft Ppl Williams movement has started again. Tommy wasted every breath in front of the camera to bad mouth someone else never to sell himself. Now that Gray is no longer in play, Tommy isn't a viable option for many of them? How did Tommy see this playing out ?

  • 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.

  • Tip of the Iceberg

    @Samantha...you are the only person on this board that resorted to the pathetic and usual accusations of "racism." Think about how that makes you look, and how others on this board will consider you. You are doing yourself a real disservice. Read, think, and educate yourself on an issue. And please try to rise above your petty ingrained tendencies. There is still time to be a thinking, literate, educated human. It is never too late.

  • Pingback: Hook, line and sinker

  • noodlez




    NEXT STOP 2014!

  • dan

    I am with you @noodlez

  • Tight Lips

    @noodlez Washingtonian? Ahahah thats the reason all of this bad stuff is happening to the city.

    Harry Thomas
    Kwame Brown
    Michael Brown
    Vince Gray

    have all played the "Hometown/Home ward hero" line and has brought shame to those wards they live in.

    A mayor that will fight for you?

    Affordable Housing
    Economic Development
    Minimum Wage

    please tell me what Gray did to bring any of this to EOTR besides allow Wal-Mart to run over us.

    Gray did a good job of slow & steady progress..

    We need someone who will do more than that.

    If Gray really cared about the people, he would confess to what happened.

  • LOL

    and who reads this paper anyway??? an idoit can see that if you facing 15-25 years and your offered a deal you say what it takes to get said deal....once it's signed they can't take it back.

    so he now is facing 6-18 months possibly house arrest and they are now tasked with figuring it out

  • tony


    You're right on point.

    Mayor Gray will be re-elected as he should.

  • drez

    Gray is going to be indicted.This has been obvious for years now.
    There will be no next term. It's over, it's time to move on.