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Monday, Oct. 17, 2011 9:36 a.m.

Federal government aggressively scrutinizes Gray campaign

Alumnus and Mayor Vincent Gray has been under severe scrutiny by federal authorities since March, following allegations by a former mayoral candidate that Gray asked him to verbally attack former Mayor Adrian Fenty on the campaign trail. File photo

The federal government is comprehensively investigating alumnus and Mayor Vincent Gray’s campaign and is eying “irregularities,” The Washington Post reported Saturday.

Investigators talked to several of Gray’s campaign staffers and subpoenaed documents as part of the criminal probe, according to The Post’s report that cited interviews with “nearly a dozen people close to the probe.”

“Gray took office with great expectations and the general goodwill of the city. But a Washington Post poll in June found that trust in him has eroded since Brown’s allegations became public and the U.S. attorney’s office began its investigation,” The Post reported. “Gray has stumbled in hiring staff — missteps at times magnified by ongoing investigations, including one by a congressional oversight committee.”

Gray, who has been slammed with ethical questions just 10 months into office, has faced fire since ex-District employee and former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown alleged Gray paid him and guaranteed him a city job if he bashed former Mayor Adrian Fenty while campaigning.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform launched a probe into Brown’s claims in March. Investigators are also looking at potential misconduct related to money-order donations to the Gray campaign that violated District rules, according to The Post.

Authorities are centering their investigation on Howard Brooks, a senior Gray campaign official, and potentially others from the campaign, according to The Post.

A report by the D.C. Council released in August criticized Gray’s administration with hundreds of pages chronicling “clear evidence” of corrupt hiring practices. The report also focused on Brooks, finding “strong evidence” he gave Brown $1,160 during the campaign, and that other individuals promised him employment.

Anonymous sources told The Post investigators have obtained fingerprints from both Brooks and Brown, and those prints might be used to learn who “handled documents, money orders or envelopes with cash that Brown claims the Gray campaign gave him or who might have handled apparently fraudulent money-order donations to the mayor’s campaign,” according to The Post.

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