D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray gives his State of the District speech last year. Federal prosecutors are now alleging he knew about the shadow campaign. Hatchet File Photo.
Federal prosecutors said Monday that Mayor Vincent Gray had asked for the help of D.C. businessman Jeffrey Thompson before he illegally funnelled more than a half-million dollars into Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign, The Washington Post reported.
Thompson pled guilty to two conspiracy counts Monday, including the financing of a $668,800 shadow campaign for Gray’s first mayoral bid between May and September 2010 – a figure that was higher than previously reported. Prosecutors said that Gray had met with Thompson several times and helped keep Thompson’s identity a secret by calling him “Uncle Earl.”
Gray said Monday that he used the nickname to keep Thompson’s identity a secret from former mayor Adrian Fenty, who also received money. Gray has repeatedly denied knowledge of the fund, though he publicly apologized for the 2010 campaign after launching his reelection bid in January.
He dismissed prosecutor’s charges when talking to a Washington Post reporter Monday.
“It’s shocking to me. Lies. These are lies,” Gray said, adding that Thompson implicated him to lessen the time he’d have to spend in prison.
“The only thing I can tell people is what has been and continues to be the truth for me, and you know what that is. I don’t need to repeat that for the 933rd time,” Gray said.
Thompson could have faced 18 months in prison but as a result of the plea, he will face at most six months in prison and a three-year supervised release.
Thompson’s court appearance, as well as the documents, unveil a tangled web of funding to federal and local political campaigns, which totalled more than $2 million. The cash also went toward Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid and Council member Vincent Orange’s 2011 At-Large Council campaign.
Thompson gave money to at least 13 federal candidates – including D.C.’s delegate to Congress Eleanor Holmes Norton – between 2006 and 2010, according to the documents.
U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen described the court appearance as a “major turning point” though he said there were “varying degrees of knowledge” about the funds among the candidates who received funding from Thompson. Machen declined to comment if Gray had cooperated with the investigation.
“What you learned about today was only the tip of the iceberg,” Machen said, adding there was no timeline to release more information about Gray before April’s Democratic mayoral primary.
Thompson said at the hearing that Orange – who is also running for mayor – did not know about the fund.
In a release, Gray’s campaign manager Chuck Thies cautioned about the “innuendo” of the charges.
“The Jeffrey Thompson charging document should be read carefully. Common misconceptions espoused by our opponents and echoed in the media are not substantiated in the Jeffrey Thompson charging documents. Read carefully,” Thies said.