Prosecutors Say D.C. Mayor Knew About Shadow Campaign
by: Eyder Peralta, NPR, March 10, 2014 3:03:00 pm
A vast and long-running federal investigation has now implicated D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.
Businessman Jeffrey Thompson pleaded guilty to conspiracy, admitting that he funneled more than $2 million into a shadow campaign to help elect the democratic mayor.
But the bombshell is that Thompson says Gray knew about the secret and illegal effort to help his cause.
"In court Monday, prosecutors laid out a detailed new set of allegations that portrayed the mayor as having intimate knowledge of Thompson's campaign finance schemes and the need for them to be secret to protect Thompson's business interests.
"'Mayoral candidate A is Vincent Gray,' Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Atkinson said, before laying out months of intermittent conversations between Gray and Thompson. After Gray launched his campaign, he personally appealed to Thompson three days before a campaign finance deadline to "accelerate his fundraising," prosecutors said. Thompson came through with checks, many of them "straw donations" from other individuals that were later reimbursed by Thompson.
"Later in the campaign, a key figure in the shadow effort asked Thompson for more than $400,000 to fund a get- out-the-vote campaign, Atkinson said. Thompson insisted that Gray ask for funds himself, and the two men met at a Gray associate's apartment. There, Gray presented him with a one-page budget and 'expressed gratitude' to Thompson for his assistance as the meeting ended."
As we reported back in December, this investigation has tarnished Gray's first term, but he still decided to seek a second term, saying he "did nothing wrong" in 2010.
Gray, it is important to note, has not been indicted. But Thompson is the fifth person close to him to plead guilty to crimes stemming from the shadow campaign.
Washington City Paper reports that prosecutors also say Thompson made other payments to Gray.
"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," the paper reports.
So why would Thompson do this? Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Atkinson said Thompson later appealed to Gray through a third part to "expedite" a "pending settlement involving his firm, D.C. Chartered Health Plan."