Loose Lips

Gray Defends Himself in Televised Debate

Vince Gray lowered himself into the shark tank for the NewsChannel 8 debate last night to face two scandal-hungry opponents, and also Jack Evans.

Ward 4 councilmember Muriel Bowser came hard at Gray over Jeff Thompson's allegations, but Gray tried to turn the plea around on Bowser, saying that she too called Thompson by the "Uncle Earl" alias (a claim Bowser denies).

“Don’t switch this to us," Bowser said. "Muriel Bowser is not the subject of the U.S. Attorney. You are the subject of the U.S. Attorney."

Tommy Wells, meanwhile, played on Gray's friendship with currently imprisoned Gray 2010 campaign operative Thomas Gore and his micromanaging reputation as evidence that Gray knew about the shadow campaign.

Even Gray pal Evans tried to get his jab in. After saying he'd avoided bringing up the investigation, Evans said he had one question for the mayor. The "big" ask: For the good of the city, was there anything Gray could to hurry the investigation along?

But Evans, who's been gunning for second place in the race for weeks, was more interested in attacking the mayor's challengers than Gray himself. Evans played down Wells' committee martyrdom at the hands of former D.C. Council chairman Kwame Brown. Wells said the rest of his Council colleagues let it happen because they're "gutless," but Evans had another theory.

"Maybe it's because nobody likes you," Evans said.

Evans also reminded Bowser that she had her own Thompson contributions to account for.

“Muriel, you’ve taken a ton of checks from him, you may want to address that," Evans said. Helpful!

Gray and Evans both tried to move the debate away from the federal investigation, but for the most part, moderator Bruce DePuyt wasn't interested. Bowser didn't miss Evans' eagerness to get past Gray's weakest issue, cracking that Evans needs to know he can't campaign for "vice-mayor."

Forced to talk more shadow campaign, Gray added another dimension to his hazy memory of how he learned about the illicit effort: Apparently, his lawyer broke the news. And Gray asked his challengers to make a Thompson revelation of their own.

"If there was a quid pro quo, let’s put it on the table," Gray said.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • noodlez

    WHAT NO WRITE UP THIS MORNING ON THE DIZZY BROAD SHOWING HOW INCOMPETENT AND OUTTA TOUCH SHE IS WHEN IT COMES TO THE CITY'S FINANCES JUST LIKE HER BOY FENTY?

    WAS IT JUST ME OR THE WAY SHE KEPT EVOKING HIS NAME WITH PASSION MAKES ONE BELIEVE FLENTY GAVE OL' MURIEL HIS LOVING TOUCH?

    BLESS HER HEART. SHE IS SO OVERWHELMED AND UNDER EXPERIENCED BUT LIKE A NATIVE WASHINGTONIAN THE TOUGHNESS STILL EXUDES EVEN THOUGH SHE KNOWS HER ASS IS GRASS AND THE ONE CITY MOWER IS CRANKED UP CUTTING CROP CIRCLES IN HER ASS.

  • DC

    "Muriel Bowser is not the subject of the U.S. Attorney."

    I know what she's trying to say here, but the fact she repeats herself suggests that she doesn't understand how grammatically incorrect the statement is.

  • Tight Lips

    Pointless debate. The future of DC Residents is at stake.

    We've given Gray more than enough attention on this matter.

    Let Machen chew his behind up, and lets move on with getting the city's reputation back on track.

  • Corky

    I thought that was a city council meeting. I was wondering where Orange and Catania were. That might have been a a quorum.

  • Stop Tommy

    Man Tommy is so full of it... http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/looselips/2014/02/26/tommy-wells-talks-tough-in-new-ad-not-always-accurately/ He provided the swing vote that enriched Thompson.

  • Stop Tommy
  • Tight Lips

    @Corky they were smart and took a raincheck on the candidate bash session aka debate

  • DCShadyBoots

    Interesting that Jack Evans didn't come after the Mayor. What does he know? Or, better yet, what is he doing behind the scenes?

  • DCShadyBoots

    LOL @ Noodles...Funny. Not Crop circles.

  • tony

    @Noodlez,

    lol!--crop circles.

    My dawg go hard! LMAO!

  • Billy The Kid

    Muriel Bowser’s Record as Councilmember
    Dorothy Brizill,

    When Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney was preparing an article about Muriel Bowser, he asked me to give him my impression of her. I wrote him a long E-mail and told him that he could quote anything in it. In McCartney’s article, http://www.tinyurl.com/m7vuznp,rr he wrote that I “was one of a half-dozen people I interviewed who have observed Bowser’s work on the council and described it as lackluster. The others spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid offending a potential mayor.” Here’s an expanded version of what I wrote him.

    Muriel Bowser has been a member of the city council since 2007, when she won a special election to succeed Adrian Fenty as the Ward 4 representative on the council. As a legislator, Muriel doesn’t have an impressive record in the introduction of legislation or the use of the council to solve important public policy issues. The ethics bill, the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability Establishment and Comprehensive Ethics Reform Amendment Act of 2011, is the one exception. It is an important bill, and it is identified as her signature legislation. But the public was clamoring for ethics reform, she was running for reelection, and she touted her work on the bill as the one example of her legislative accomplishments, The bill was largely pushed through the council by Council Chairman Kwame Brown. In the wake of the “fully loaded SUV” controversy that raised questions about Brown’s own ethical lapses and poor judgment, Brown wanted to use the ethics bill to redefine himself in the eyes of DC voters as an “ethics reformer,” and he used his influence in the council to ensure passage of Bowser’s bill. Because of the messy manner in which the bill was drafted, several verbal amendments were made on the council dais, The final text of the bill wasn’t ready for several months after council passage, and no draft text was made available during that time for public comment. Neither Muriel nor her staff consulted with experts or Washington citizens who were most familiar with the ethics issues that have plagued the city government over the years. It should also be noted that, as chair of the Government Operations Committee, Muriel wasn’t able to draft a campaign finance reform bill, although other councilmembers introduced multiple bills on campaign finance in 2011 and 2012. It wasn’t until 2013, when freshman councilmember Kenyon McDuffie became chair of the council’s Government Operations Committee, that a comprehensive campaign finance bill was drafted and adopted by the council.

    Muriel doesn’t work well with her council colleagues. She is not well liked or trusted by them, and many of them consider her a lightweight. Even before councilmembers all started running against each other to be mayor, you couldn’t find another councilmember who would speak well of her.

    Muriel has not demonstrated good judgment in hiring her staff. She has one of the worst staffs on the council. They are not informed, knowledgeable, or even pleasant, and she micromanages them. She insists that her legislative/committee director, Rob Hawkins, keep his office in her suite of offices rather than in the committee office. Her staffers, including her press director, claim never to know about legislative or issue matters, and they must get Bowser’s or her chief of staff’s permission to provide any information. All calls to her committee and staffers must go through her main office receptionist.

    As a Ward 4 councilmember, she provides very poor constituent services, and there are numerous complaints by residents of the ward about not being able to get service or assistance from her office. Her director of constituent services, Brandon Todd, has been working on her campaign full time for several months.

    Regarding education, about three years ago Ward 4 residents were outraged over conditions at Roosevelt and Coolidge High Schools and the slow pace of renovation at the two schools. Coolidge, which should have been the first on the list schools in the District to be renovated, was dropped down to one of the last to be renovated. It was widely believed that funds that were earmarked for Roosevelt and Coolidge were diverted by Mayor Fenty to the renovation of Wilson and Woodson. Ward 4 residents felt that Bowser didn’t fight for school funding in her ward, and more generally that she wasn’t engaged in education issues. In an effort to silence Ward 4 residents who were criticizing her on education, Bowser tried to counter the Ward 4 Council on Education by creating her own entity, which she called the Ward 4 Education Compact; it has not been active or engaged since its creation.

    Economic development in Ward 4, especially on Georgia Avenue, has been a consistent promise by Bowser to Ward 4 residents, but for years there was been little meaningful economic development on the Avenue. Recently, Councilmember Jack Evans, campaigning against Bowser in the mayor’s race, took advantage of this lack of economic development by holding a rally on Georgia Avenue. The one exception has been the building of the Georgia Avenue Walmart. Walmart, of course, has many vocal opponents, especially in the labor movement, but one of Bowser’s early and most prominent financial backers was David Wilmot, who served as the finance chairman for Bowser’s 2011 reelection campaign. Wilmot is a paid lobbyist and consultant to Walmart. After Walmart announced its intention to open a store at the busy intersection of Georgia and Missouri Avenues, Muriel refused to hear or respond to legitimate community concerns about the store, including traffic and its potential impact on other businesses in the area.

    Most observers of District politics and the inner working of the Wilson Building have had unpleasant encounters with Bowser. People compare her personality to Adrian Fenty’s, and say that she is cool, aloof, and mean. She will roll her eyes and openly display disgust at citizens or colleagues with whom she disagrees even when she is on the council dais or at community meetings. She is still working in Fenty’s shadow; there are even rumors that Fenty will return to DC to campaign for her in the final weeks of the campaign, and he is raising funds for her in California. Many unpleasant people who worked for Fenty are now working in Bowser’s council office and campaign.

    A telling example that is often cited regarding Bowser’s personality and how she has discharged her council duties is her treatment of Betty Noel. Noel, a prominent Ward 4 resident, had served with distinction as the District’s Peoples Counsel for eighteen years, representing citizens’ interests with respect to public utilities. When her last six-year term expired, Mayor Fenty refused to reappoint her, and instead, with Bowser’s blessing, nominated Vicky Beasley, an attorney with little experience, to the Peoples Counsel position. Beasley’s nomination, however, was not approved by the council because of opposition from citizens, the Consumer Utility Board, and civic organizations. Bowser took the council’s rejection of Beasley personally, blamed Noel for it, and retaliated against Noel. When in 2011, Mayor Gray nominated Noel to fill a vacant seat on the Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities in the District, Bowser immediately announced her opposition. Rather than champion the appointment of a Ward 4 resident to such an important and prestigious commission, Bowser worked tirelessly with PEPCO behind the scenes to defeat Noel. Through procedural maneuvers, Noel’s nomination died in the council’s Public Service and Consumer Affairs Committee on March 15, 2012, in a three to two vote, with Bowser, Alexander, and Mendelson voting against her. To date, the seat to which Noel was appointed on the three-member board has remained vacant.

    Most troubling when assessing her qualifications to be mayor of the District is the fact that she has no meaningful work or management experience. Prior to running for the council to fill Fenty’s Ward 4 seat, she was an employee at the Silver Spring downtown redevelopment corporation, where she was not in management.

    Finally, despite her public image as being “clean,” Bowser has skirted campaign laws and regulations. When she ran for reelection to her Ward 4 council seat in 2012, she initially ran the campaign out of her council office. Joy Holland, her chief of staff, held campaign strategy meetings in Bowser’s front office, and Bowser’s campaign posters and literature were stored in the committee office of Ron Austin, who was then her chief of constituent services. Over the years, she received at least $18,600 in campaign contributions from Jeffrey Thompson and his straw donors.

  • Abominable Dr. Phibes

    to make phibes earl, ralph is an accomplishment. congrats citypaper

  • REALDC

    @billythekid- LMAO! We get it, Bowser just sucks!! Enough said.

  • SIMPLE JACK

    Simple:

    Muriel is a proven closeted and unproud member of the LGBTQ population. She sent her partner Tamara L. Watkins out if town to chicago, at least until campaign is over.

    Jack is just too white for dc.

    Wells is a shameless drunk.

    Shallal is an interesting choice worth considering.

    Gray is yesterday's news.

    Orange is shady at best...

    Carlos Allen who?

  • SIMPLE JACK

    Rita is Holmes Norton replacement.

  • truth hurts

    We interrupt the weekend edition of One City Sock Puppet Theater for an important bulletin. Gray supporters are cautioned about reading further because it contains facts may be disturbing to them.

    Six weeks ago, the mayor gave a recorded statement to Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post. In response to a question asking when and how he first became aware of the shadow campaign, the mayor said he did not remember.

    During Thursday's televised debate, the mayor was again asked when he first became aware of the shadow campaign. This time, the mayor switched up and claimed no memory loss. He said he first learned of the shadow campaign "from his attorney, long after it was over."

    Many voters are now asking themselves: Who do I believe, the first Gray or the second Gray? Many intelligent and thoughtful voters believe neither Gray. And they want the mayor to answer specific questions he's evaded to this day.

    For example, it's been established that Gray was driven to secret meetings with Harris/Thompson as well as dozens of public campaign events in a vehicle leased by the shadow campaign and by a driver (Mark Long) paid by the shadow campaign. So here's the question, Mr. Mayor: When and how did you become aware that your driver and the vehicle you rode in were paid for by Thompson? Can't recall?

...