Mayor Gray Strikes Back at Corruption Allegations; Catania in Race
In the aftermath of the Jeffrey Thompson guilty plea and plea bargain Monday—in which he alleged that Mayor Vincent Gray knew about and participated in the 2010 shadow campaign with which Thompson raised more than $600,000, the time-running-out campaign has changed rapidly, but without any visible rush to judgement with only under three weeks to go before the Democratic primary April 1.
The mayor denied, denied, calling Thompson allegation lies, lies and falsehoods while his manager consistently refers to a smear campaign.
After being interview on the day of the testimony, Gray, who said he was shocked by the allegations, went on the attack in a State of the District address. A mostly friendly Ward 7 crowd was asked this question by him: “Who do you believe? . . . A greedy man attempting to save himself? Or me, a public servant who has dedicated his entire career to giving back to your communities?”
Nobody has attempted to answer that question directly, except a Washington Post columnist who flatly said he is convinced that Gray lied. Gray has his defenders, while his rivals are scrambling to take advantages of the inherent advantage in recent events.
Tommy Wells, the lone candidate who has made a point of not accepting corporate donations (and therefore, of course, lags in available funds) picked up two endorsements, Gray lost one. Wells picked up the endorsements of GreaterGreater Washington and the DC Police Union, Fraternal Order of Police & Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee. The Current newspapers, which had endorsed Gray in their previous issue, touted his good job on managing the city but then withdrew their endorsement in light of the Thompson news.
Meanwhile, At-large Councilman David Catania, who had already said that he would run for mayor if the mayor should happen to win the primary, made it official earlier than expected. In announcing his candidacy, he said, “This whole drama that we’ve had, this Jeff Thompson-Vince Gray drama, the time has come for this to end." Catania, who is an independent, is not a part of the primary election but the winner of the Democratic Primary will face him in the general election in November.
The “This is the Week that Was” of the campaign leaves the outcome muddled, especially in the potential fate of the mayor. The U.S. attorney Ron Machen has not specified any other dates for any future indictments, which could, presumably include the mayor.