Prosecutors say “Mayor Vincent Gray knew that his 2010 campaign received money donated illegally”

Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

From NBC Washington:

“In total, Thompson — whose company had a contract worth $300 million a year with the city — funneled $668,800 to “a political candidate for Mayor,” the charging documents say. Those documents also claim that the unreported donation was made “in coordination with” the candidate.”

Mayor Gray has denied the allegations.

Does this affect your decision on who you’ll vote for April 1st? Or will you still wait for more details/proof?

104 Comment

  • Alright, so operation “anyone but Bowser” commencing now.

    • I’ve heard people say that before but I can’t tell why. Why is your preference “anyone but Bowser”? I haven’t heard any corruptions stories about her.

      • No corruption stories that we’ve heard of, but she is completely useless. She never responds to requests from her District. She doesn’t seem to do much other than keep her nose clean.

        • She also took money from the same shadow campaign (in fact, every mayoral candidate did other than Tommy Wells–including Catania).

          • No, she didn’t. Tommy wells’ dishonest ad implies she did but she didn’t.

          • Michael A Brown was the Ward 4 candidate who took money from Thompson, according to what I read (journalist matched the sum Thompson confessed to given with amounts in Brown’s campaign finance disclosures).

            Weird thing is, why was Brown putting Thompson’s money in his disclosures when Gray, Hillary Clinton et al, weren’t?

        • For a reason just ask the community around the new taylor st group home. They reached out to her months ago and got zero action. It was not until someone cornered her that she even called a meeting with DYRS.

          Many in her ward are unhappy with her lack of response. Also, can you name some legislation she has introduced and gotten passed? Me neither….

          • saf

            Or those of us around the new Safeway.
            Or those of us who have asked for help dealing with city agencies.

          • Dislike on the NIMBY response to group homes. We need to be a community that takes care of everyone rather than casting people aside or institutionalizing/incarcerating them. This NIMBYism is why our system is so tilted in favor of punishment that is counterproductive.

        • I actually have to disagree with this statement. I’ve logged two issues with her office and both were resolved well and in an extremely timely manner.

      • She seems nice enough and I have no reason to think she is corrupt. But I have problems with many of her positions (e.g., anti zoning update, anti height act reform, no 16th St dedicated bus lane, etc…) that make me oppose her.

        • gotryit

          I had the same thoughts on the issues – she seems far too ambivalent about improving bus / bike facilities. That was actually enough to push me back to Gray, but if he’s going to get pulled then I don’t know what I’ll do.

        • I had a similar reaction. I spoke with her at a couple of events. She didn’t seem to have a great command of the issues in DC. She gave non-committal responses or totally vapid ones (e.g. we just need an Alice Deal in every ward!).

          Now I don’t know who to vote for. I can’t bring myself to support Gray or Bowser.

      • I have been in meetings with her and she seems dumber than a box of rocks. Now she is all about “fixing middle schools” bandwagon and her go nowhere piece of legislation bascially said make middles schools like Deal in upper NW. She doesn’t understand development, streetcars or progress quite frankly. And she most definitely has issues with gentrifiers and you can interpret that anyway you want to. Definitely anyone but bowser.

  • It sure does. David Catania for mayor!

    • Catania needs to stay on the council to keep school reform on track. He’s not ready to run the whole city yet, let him stay focused on the issue he knows how to handle (he botched his oversight of Health and Human Services).

      • In fact, Catania oversaw the health system at the heart of this. Multiple million dollar bailouts to Jeffrey Thompson’s group, despite all the bluster and hollering.

    • saf

      Uh huh. Mr Angry for mayor? No.

    • Serious, not snarky question here. How conservative is Catania? I know he used to be a Republican, so what are his policies?

  • Of course he knew! How could anyone believe these people mounted a shadow campaign simply for their own amusement? Now it’s just a matter of having evidence that he was connected. Dude is going to jail.

  • jim_ed

    I still don’t care. Maybe its cynicism that I think everyone’s got something to hide and that in the grand scheme of things this was pretty minor corruption or the terror of the idea of Mayor Bowser, but I’m still voting for Gray in the primary and likely for Catania in the general.

    • Bring on Bowser! Couldn’t be more excited.

    • Well, if that’s true then you are no better than the large contingent in Ward 8 that I’ve seen you ridicule who continues to vote for Marion Barry.

      For anyone who had lived in DC for more than 5 minutes knew Gray was a member of the “old Guard”. The man publically proclaimed Marion Barry to be his mentor, and personally hired his “crack” team of close personal friends, all of which had run afoul of Johnny law previously. What did any really expect other than this.

      Oh, and the folks over at GGW should be horribly ashamed that they supported a man simply to keep whatever influence they though they had at the city level.

      • Which is hilarious, when you consider that they have absolutely zero influence over anything inside the District.

        • The GGW crowd seems to have influence over bike lane infrastructure. Other issues, not so much.

          • Only insomuch as they constantly whine about it to anyone who will listen. Real influence in DC requires throwing around lots of money, and GGW is merely a blog.

  • I have never liked Gray and always assumed that he knew about the shadow campaign. Still, I acknowledge the real possibility that a guy like Thompson would lie to save his own skin. Will it affect my vote? Probably not. I have been seriously considering sitting out the primary (and I always vote) because I’m not thrilled by any of the candidates. If I do vote, I will probably hold my nose and vote for Gray because he has proven that he can run the city competently. Better the devil I know, I suppose. In the general, Catania just might convince me to vote for him.

  • The stench of old school DC politics is overwhelming. It is time to vote these self-entitled clowns out of office, including Jim Graham.

  • I’d vote for Uncle Earl, he seems to be doing a good job with the city. And agree, anyone but Bowser!

    • I agree – Uncle Earl is the perfect choice for mayor! He really knows how to get things done, he has close ties to the business community, AND he is a convicted felon, which gives him the street cred needed by Ward 8 voters.

  • I probably would have voted for Gray, because I think the city is in good shape. He’s actually done a much better job than I expected. But I just can’t vote for a guy who’s likely to be indicted any day now. I understand that politics in general is dirty, but this crosses the line for me. I think I’m going to vote for Bowser.

  • justinbc

    I wasn’t going to vote for him anyway, so it doesn’t really change my mind.

  • Can we get Ron Machen to run for mayor? Please?

  • I will probably vote Andy Shallal in the primary, just not to support any of the old guard.

    But Catania gets my hands down vote in the general election.

    • Shallal is the move in the primary. Orange and Gray are old guard, Bowser has no new ideas, and Wells hasn’t been particularly effective as a legislator, so I can’t imagine what he could do in the mayor’s office. At least Shallal has shown he knows how to work with developers and manage people.

      Catania isn’t to be able to effectively govern. Aside from the stories about his temperament, he generally seems capable in one area only: school reform. Keep him on the council and let’s get these test scores improved. One issue at a time.

    • I would love to vote for Shallal, but unfortunately I don’t think he stands the slightest possible chance this time around – people just don’t know who he is. I think Wells would do a great job as DC mayor.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    I voted for Fenty. I never liked Gray, he is in the same echelon as Marion Barry. My vote in the primary will be for my neighbor, Andy Shalall. He is a proven successful businessman and entrepreneur. I hope Gray goes to jail.

  • Well, this is a serious sh*tshow. Wells, Evans and Bowser splitting challenger vote, and Gray under seriously heavy fire… Bowser seems like a do-nothing alternative who hasn’t proven much of anything. Wells is extremely responsive in Ward 6 but hasn’t seemed to gain the traction needed elsewhere to be a real challenger over and above Bowser and Evans. Evans seems competent but seems so unbelievably milquetoast that I can’t really get interested.

    It will probably be Gray vs Catania in the general. With Gray under indictment it’s looking increasingly likely that Catania is our best hope for some real change.

    • What change do you want to see?

      • I’ll admit that Gray has done a much better job than expected. What I really want is the stench of bought and sold politicians completely swept out of DC. Right now there’s far too many connections to the old guard to be confident that we’ve put that behind us.

        Tommy Wells seems the cleanest candidate to me. I live in Ward 6 and things have improved dramatically under his leadership. He’s a straight talker (unlike Gray), he’s open and available (unlike Bowser), and he does things he says he’s going to do. Some people like to deride him as a “Portlandia” character but I don’t get this– what’s so awful about Portland?

        • brookland_rez

          I like Wells too. When I lived in Ward 6, he was always responsive. I worked on McDuffie’s first campaign and was at his victory party. Tommy Wells was there as well. McDuffie is also clean of the old guard DC politics and has no connections to Thompson. We’ve made a lot of progress in getting the corruption out (Kwame Brown, Harry Thomas, etc). Let’s finish the job and start at the top with a mayor that is free of corruption.

        • jim_ed

          I think the Portlandia thing with Tommy is that he’s a strict idealist. Its worked well for Ward 6 in that a large (and growing) percentage of his constituency is white and wealthy, so issues like urban chicken keeping and bike lanes can be at the top of the priority list. However, being Mayor of DC requires balancing the goals of multiple groups who oftentimes have diametrically opposite views, and Tommy has not shown the pragmatism to do this – his pandering to anyone and everyone during the campaign trail has only added to this belief.
          I’ll give a personal anecdote that showed to me his lack of pragmatism: I met Tommy at an event when my wife and I rented in Ward 6 several years ago. Given an audience of a few minutes, I mentioned to Tommy that my wife and I were middle class earners, and we were concerned that we were being priced out of the ward, which was concerning because we were planning on starting a family and it seemed like a great place to settle down. Tommy’s advice was to move to Deanwood. To a young family looking to raise kids in the city, his best idea was to move to one of the more violent neighborhoods in the city with terrible schools. He could have recommended a co-op in SW, or even Carver-Langston. Nope. Deanwood. That proved to me Tommy doesn’t have the real world chops needed to be Mayor.

          • So Tommy expressed optimism for Deanwood and that’s why you’re not voting for him?

          • and his pragmatic approach towards your middle class income was to move to a place you could afford.

          • Agree with Anonymous @ 11:45 – seems like a rational suggestion to me.

          • brookland_rez

            When I was looking to buy a house in DC, I wanted to be in Adams Morgan or Dupont, because that’s where all the happening nightlife was. Alas I could not afford those neighborhoods, so I settled in Brookland instead and rode my bike or took metro to the nightlife. 5 years later, enough people like myself made similar decisions, and now you have an explosion of restaurants and services right in Brookland.
            So I agree with his advice. Unless you are in the upper income brackets, in this city you need to buy where you can afford and take a stake and make your neighborhood better.
            You think Ward 6 was always nice? When I lived down there a lot of parts were shitholes, especially where I lived north of H St. But people like me moved in and made a grassroots effort to clean it up. And I didn’t even own at that time. And Tommy Wells was very responsive when we requested the help of the city to have extra police patrols come in to get rid of the prostitutes, etc.
            If everyone thought like you, all the nice neighborhoods would still be concentrated west of RCP, and none of the gentrification that has happened would have happened. East of the river areas like Deanwood, Ft Dupont, Anacostia, are the future areas for gentrification. And they won’t gentrify until middle income buyers start going over there. It’s all a big cycle. 30 years ago, Capitol Hill, Logan Circle were crime ridden and blighted. The first wave is when middle class people move into blighted neighborhoods and fix the existing housing stock up. Eventually when existing housing runs out, developers start building new housing. Somewhere along the way, neighborhood amenities come, schools improve, and crime goes down. This cycle has played out all over the city from west to east over the past 50 years and there’s no reason to expect it to stop anytime soon (barring some dramatic blow to the area’s economy).

          • “and his pragmatic approach towards your middle class income was to move to a place you could afford.”

            rather than explain what he would do, as mayor, to address the policies that limit housing supply and make DC less affordable.

            I mean I get that lots of people think DC’s current zoning, parking, height limit etc regs are just fine, and that the way to address the housing problems of middle class folks is to send them to Deanwood. But if I felt that way, I could vote for Evans (with more experience on the Council, arguably more effective) or Bowser (who is in a much better position to unite the city across racial lines). Why vote for Wells if he isn’t going to advocate the kinds of urbanist positions we have associated with him? Because at least he will put a bike lane in Deanwood?

          • brookland_rez

            BTW I can understand not wanting to raise kids in a gentrifying neighborhood. I don’t have kids, so it was never an issue for me. When I lived down on Parker St, north of H St, there were families on the street with kids even though it was still a rough area. So it can be done.

          • Unless you moved to capital hill 60 years ago, you were within a few blocks of a desirable area (and within walking distance of the US capital). Most of the gentrification you refer to happened in ‘the next neighborhood over’ usually within a few blocks of areas much further along in transition.

            Today, in DC, even such neighborhoods are priced too high for a middle class family (though of course it depends how far you want to stretch on a mortgage.) Deanwood is NOT adjacent to a neighborhood much further along. And it also does not have the strengths in architecture or street grid that the areas you refer to had.

            Maybe historic Anacostia is a better example. The other problem though, is that the Anacostia river seems to be more of a barrier than even Rock Creek Park was – and downtown was always east of Rock Creek, which helped.

          • brookland_rez

            @informer, where I lived the closest decent restaurant or anything to do was Union Station. So yeah, I could walk to that. But that was it. And most places in Union Station were shut down after 8pm or so (whenever rush hour died down). H St was a ghost town at night. The only streetlife was homeless people and crackheads getting food at the bullet proof Chinese carryouts or liquor stores. The closest decent nightlife was U St. I used to walk home from U St. sometimes. As soon as you rounded the corner to the right to merge onto FL Ave, a lot of the houses were boarded up. There was literally no sit down restaurants or nightlife east of U St. Windows Cafe in Ledroit Park was the only place. I remember when Big Bear opened. I remember when the neighborhood protested their liquor license. The only other real nightlife spot was Barrack Row. When I went out, I either had to go there or over to U St/14th St, which BTW were nothing like they are today.

          • justinbc

            “address the policies that limit housing supply and make DC less affordable”

            Well, most of the houses for sale Wells’ ward are under contract in just barely over a week (now anyway, and even several years ago it was seen as one of the hottest places to buy). So, although they might not be affordable to you, or Jim, or many other people, they are clearly affordable to enough people to not make it a particular concern when posed with a question about housing prices in his region. What else should he have said? Get a different job? Eat out less? It’s not like he’s going to propose building 10 story condos all over the place (which coincidentally are now going up all down the west side of H Street NE).

          • brookland_rez

            @informer, you’re right, Deanwood is not adjacent yet to a desirable neighborhood. But neither is Brookland. Brookland is kind of the anchor for upper NE. Brentwood to the south of Brookland is hardly desirable. Woodridge to the east and Michigan Park to the north are fine and all but they kind of hinge themselves to the development happening in Brookland. Same with Edgewood. The Chancellor’s Row townhomes are actually in Edgewood but they market them as being in Brookland. If a young family wants to buy in an affordable area that is not too dangerous, any of the neighborhoods adjacent to Brookland are a pretty good bet, IMO.

          • brookland_rez

            @justinbc, it’s really pretty simple, isn’t it? The market is what it is. If you can’t afford a neighborhood buy in one where you can. It really is that simple. I don’t bitch and whine because I can’t afford Cleveland Park. Like I’m going to go up to Mary Cheh and ask her what she plans to do so that there is more “affordable” housing made available to people earning what I do in Cleveland Park. What’s she supposed so say or do?

          • brookland_rez

            And then I’m going to hold it against her when she doesn’t give me the response I want to hear.

          • “@informer, you’re right, Deanwood is not adjacent yet to a desirable neighborhood. But neither is Brookland. Brookland is kind of the anchor for upper NE.”

            Brookland is home to CUA, and several other RC institutions, which has made it an enclave for as long as Ive been in DC (last 20 years) Deanwood today is not what Brookland 20 yrs ago was, AFAICT.

            Brentwood and Edgewood are, I agree, better choices than Deanwood. Though I think they are pricier by a good bit (including adjustment for inflation) than transitioning areas were 10 or 15 years ago.

          • “Like I’m going to go up to Mary Cheh and ask her what she plans to do so that there is more “affordable” housing made available to people earning what I do in Cleveland Park. What’s she supposed so say or do?”

            Support the people fighting NIMBYISM in ward 3.


            BTW, when i said near desirable areas, I did not mean specifically restaurants. north Capital Hill in the old days (IE 12 years ago) had little nearby desirable retail, except in Union Station. But there was nearby desirable residential. CH transitioned block by block. Deanwood is MILES from the nearest such desirable residential. Its not at all the same thing, and Wells, at least, knows that.

          • “It’s not like he’s going to propose building 10 story condos all over the place (which coincidentally are now going up all down the west side of H Street NE).”

            actually, based on the image Id gotten of him, that (and building taller than 10 stories) is precisely the answer I would have expected from Wells. The Deanwood answer is what Id expect from the others (except Gray.) Bowser at least would have suggested Lamond Riggs, which is probably a better choice than Deanwood, if lacking metrorail.

          • brookland_rez

            @informer, I don’t think Wells seriously meant for them to go to Deanwood. There are plenty of good alternatives west of the river still, I agree.
            I think it’s more that he probably gets asked that a lot, and honestly there’s not a lot a politician can do or should do to manipulate the market. When the government gets too heavily involved in housing policies, we end up with failures and bad side effects (housing projects anyone?) Then current system of inclusionary zoning is sufficient intervention. So maybe his response was a little harsh, but I like that. I’m like that. I like to say it how it is, and I respect a politician that is willing to do that too.

          • brookland_rez

            @informer, have you ever been to Deanwood? There’s actually a lot of nice little bungalows over there, similar to what you see in Brookland and other neighborhoods. There’s pockets like that all over EOR DC. Fort Dupont, Hillcrest are other enclaves. They’re kind of like Brookland was 10 years ago. Nice residential communities, just lacking in amenities.
            Regarding Ward 3, even if that stuff gets built built, rest assured it won’t be affordable to middle income earners. Not with average home prices in the millions in Ward 3. Ward 3 is so desirable, it would take a massive amount of new housing beyond comprehension to bring house prices down to $300k (an affordable house to a family making $100k/year, the area’s median income).

          • saf

            Have you BEEN to Deanwood? I have. I have friends there. I have friends who were raised there.
            No, it’s not perfectly clean and always safe, but safer than you think.

    • I think there is only one real alternative to all these do-nothing or corrupt candidates: Dan Silverman for Mayor!!

    • A Catania mayorship would be an unmitigated disaster. Considering his personality and the ease with which he is known to fly off the handle when he disagrees with anybody else’s position, I could only imagine what a joke we would become.

  • This is all part of “The Plan.”

  • I’m shocked, sh*cked about this. Given how much things stink in City Hall, I think it might time to vote in a white republican into office. I’m not white, I’m not a republican, but its time to clean house.

  • Tommy Wells, the only candidate to not take corporate contributions. I’m not crazy about Wells but, for me, everyone else is tainted by corporate cash.

  • People who hate DC should vote for Bowser. She’s a not just a lightweight with a Sista Gurl accent. She’s proactively homophobic, she’s hired someone fired from McDuffie’s office for embezzelment, and she’s positively retrograde in her cynical pandering against good transportation and fair taxation.

  • Wells in the primary, and if he doesn’t win, Catania in the general. It would be the first time ever that I don’t vote for a Democrat.

    • brookland_rez

      That sounds like a good strategy. As much as I like Wells, I’m not sure if he has enough support to win the primary. If it comes down to Bowser and Catania, everybody that wants a fresh start to DC politics could rally behind Catania.

  • David Catania! Not sure who in the primary, but Bowser was unresponsive to our Ward until she realized there were 200+ people that wanted her attention. Even once we talked to her, she told us we needed to go to the Mayor, hence not doing her job as our council member that should speak on behalf of her Ward to the Mayor. Now voting for Grey seems wrong.

  • Voting for Evans. He’s got a good standing on the council, understands people with kids want to stay in the city and supports schools, worked tirelessly to ensure deals went through years ago which we are just now seeing the fruits of his efforts; Verizon Center, City Center, Nationals Stadium, etc. Good solid vote.

    • I like Evans too. I support his positions and view his business experience as positive. I was a bit on the fence with such a wide open primary, but the answer has been there the whole time. My vote is with Jack Evans.

  • I thought Gray was suspicious the moment he entered the mayoral race, so none of it surprises me–except how breathtakingly stupid he was. One-on-one meetings, code names and putting your illegal campaign needs on paper??!! No wonder Jeff Thompson picked him to be his government stooge.

  • Gray will probably still win. The lack of a good alternative among this slate of candidates is pretty appalling.

    • Meant to also write – Fenty largely sunk his own ship. In the end, Gray didn’t even need Thompson’s money to win. I bet he feels pretty stupid.

  • The real irony (in the Alannis Morrisette sense) here is that the same kind of forces that got Gray elected may deny him a second term. Gray didn’t run against Fenty’s policies, he ran against Fenty’s personality. Most people were happy with DC under Fenty, they just didn’t like Fenty. Most people are happy with DC under Gray, they just don’t like or trust him. What may save Gray (assuming he doesn’t get indicted) is that there is no one in the field who occupies the same space he occupied four years ago when he went against Fenty. Gray was the clear and only alternative for the anti-Fenty vote. Now, there is no clear alternative to the anti-Gray vote.

    • The only clear alternative I see is Catania in the general. All the other Democratic candidates pretty much cancel each other out.

  • “When the government gets too heavily involved in housing policies,”

    the govt is too heavily involed in housing policies that limit supply.

    1. Parking requirements
    2, Ban on ADUs
    3. Limits on number of units per house
    4. Limits on floor area ratio in residential areas
    5. The Height Limit
    6. Excessive Historic preservation restrictions
    7. Failure to prioritize/expedite dense housing on DC govt owned parcels, like Reservation 13, McMillan, etc.-

    • brookland_rez

      I agree, but the other side of that equation is demand. Before 2000, there was low demand for housing in DC, that’s why prices were low. Now demand outstrips supply. I still contend that limited supply in more desirable neighborhoods is what drives people to less desirable neighborhoods and that is what fuels the city cleaning up. And that is a good thing.

    • ADUs = Accessory Dwelling Units?

  • “Regarding Ward 3, even if that stuff gets built built, rest assured it won’t be affordable to middle income earners.”

    1. The new stuff isnt going to be affordable, but it still impacts overall supply – since folks who barely cant afford new, get pushed to buying old.
    2 I dont necessarily think Ward 3 is where the most potential for new supply is – but you mentioned cheh, so I explained what she could do. It wont make an SFH in ward 3 affordable to a middle class person, but it would help for apts/condos. If we did more of that in other wards with more land, it could make a big difference.
    3. Deanwood as Brookland – except Brookland had institutional anchors. And a good street grid, making it easy to walk to the metro. IIUC access to deanwood metro on foot is more challenging. Its not just about the bungalows – if it were, there are a bunch of places in Md and NoVa that would be better choices.

    • brookland_rez

      Deanwood has a street grid and a metro. There’s parts that are very walkable to Metro. The metro is right on Minnesota Ave by the rec center. It’s a very easy walk. Go over there. I go through there all the time. You’ll be ok.

  • Does this news affect my opinion of Gray? I am new to DC, but it gives me pause. But, I find myself wondering how they can possibly build a winnable case against him. There are two people who were supposedly involved in setting up a face-to-face meeting between the mayor and Thompson. If memory serves, they both denied the mayor’s involvement and have been indicted (and gone to jail?) The only person with first hand knowledge (as far as we know now) who says the mayor knew and/or was involved is Thompson who has a huge incentive to lie- he is likely going to get a greatly reduced sentence for incriminating the mayor. I don’t even think you could put something that weak in front of a grand jury. Maybe, the US Attorney does not intend to indict and just hopes to do as much political damage to Gray as possible. I have been telling myself for the last couple of months that I would vote for Gray, unless he is indicted. I guess this new development will really test my resolve.

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