D.C. Councilman Vincent C. Gray may be running against Adrian M. Fenty in the mayor's race, but it might seem Thursday as if Gray is running against Fenty-ally Ronald C. Moten, the co-founder of Peaceoholics.
Moten has alerted the media to a noon press conference he is holding outside of Pacifica Radio's WPFW studios in Adams Morgan so he can respond to Gray campaign for "slandering" him after it put out a press release last night accusing Moten of being one of Fenty's "cronies."
Moten also plans to confront Gray, who will be attending a debate with Fenty at the radio station from 11 a.m. to noon.
On Wednesday, D.C. Wire reported that Moten wants Fenty to veto a council bill approved Tuesday that would make it local crime to pay someone to vote or register to vote, or accepting payment to vote or register to vote. Moten worries the bill, which he said was sloppily drafted and rushed through the legislative process, could outlaw the Go-Go concerts he is organizing to drum up support for Fenty's campaign.
The Gray campaign seized on Moten's comments to D.C. Wire, issuing a statement Wednesday night stating it was "beyond disappointing that one of the mayor's top cronies would oppose a measure to stop vote-buying."
"But I'm not surprised," Gray spokesman Traci Hughes said. "The mayor and his cronies have had no problem bringing pay to play politics to city government. Now it looks like they want to bring it to the voting booth."
In an interview, Moten said he resents being called a crony.
"I work hard for my name," Moten said. "If he wants to talk about cronies, I am going to start naming all his cronies...He can't go along destroying innocent people....I have worked hard all of my life and never got anything for free."
Moten has emerged as an untraditional, yet influential, Fenty supporter in the mayor's race. Since Fenty took office, Peaceoholics has received millions of dollars in city money to operate its violence prevention programs. Moten, who no longer works for Peaceoholics but sits on its board of directors, is now trying to rally African-American support for the mayor.
Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) said the "Corrupt Elections Practices Act" approved Tuesday was designed to respond to community concerns to guard against fraud as the city implements her proposal to allow for same-day voter registration and 10 days of early voting in this year's elections.
Update, 10:30 a.m.
Although Cheh said she is confident that the process will go smoothly, she said some community leaders expressed concern after allegations that Moten paid several teenagers and young adults to vote for Fenty in a Ward 8 mayoral straw poll in May.
Moten strongly denies the allegation. In an interview Thursday, Moten said he supports efforts to make it a local crime to pay people to vote.
"I think people should go to jail who pay people to vote," said Moten, an ex-offender.
But Moten said the bill should have had more assurances that the emergency legislation also won't hinder Fenty's concerts.
At the concerts, the Fenty campaign encourages participants to register to vote in exchange for entrance, free food and T-shirts featuring the mayor pictured with go-go artists.
Gray campaign strategist Mo Elleithee said, "Ron Moten is a lifelong buddy and top campaign advisor of the Mayor's, whose organization has gotten a number of questionable contracts from the city. Now he's attacking a bill to prohibit vote-buying. I'm pretty sure that neither he nor the Mayor ought to be teaching any classes on ethics."
-- Tim Craig