For the second time this week, Vincent C. Gray is being forced to distance himself from the actions of one of his campaign volunteers, raising questions about whether his extensive campaign network will help or hurt him on Election Day.
On Monday, Gray spokeswoman Traci Hughes blamed an "overly zealous" campaign staffer for "an unauthorized" mass email asking former city employees fired by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to contact the Gray campaign.
A day later, in response to a complaint from the D.C. Republican Committee, Hughes was confronted with questions about why Gray ads in the Hill Rag newspaper failed to include the required "paid for by" disclaimer. A flyer for a Gray fundraiser was also circulated without the disclaimer.
The local GOP filed a complaint with the Office of Campaign Finance, accusing Gray of violating local election law.
In a statement issued Tuesday night, Hughes said the "ads and flyer were produced and paid for by a campaign volunteer as an in-kind contribution to the campaign."
'The ads and flyer should have contained a paid by disclaimer," Hughes said. "We have taken corrective action so it does not happen again."
Such mishaps are fairly routine for a political campaign, but taken together they reflect the challenge Gray faces in organizing his big-tent operation.
With the Gray effort largely made up of volunteers, union leaders, and local neighborhood and Democratic activists, some of whom at times appear to be free-lancing. Campaign leaders appear to be struggling to provide adequate oversight.
Fenty, in comparison, relies on a network of paid staffers who usually operate within a more disciplined campaign structure.
The big unknown is which strategy will be more effective when it comes to turning out the vote. While Fenty may have the advantage when it comes to deploying his staff resources to target specific groups of voters, Gray may be able to claim his volunteers are more committed to the ultimate goal.
Still, both Fenty and Gray will likely face continued challenges in keeping their staffers and supporters away from controversy during the final month of the campaign.
In July, a Fenty canvasser was charged with selling crack, which prompted his quick dismissal from the campaign. Some residents have also accused some of Fenty paid canvassers of being rude when they show up at the door.
Fenty also appears to be giving Peaceoholics co-founder Ronald Moten free rein to act as a surrogate and strategist.
Moten, also an upstart journalist, has mass-produced a magazine that attacks Gray's record. According to an account in the City Paper, TheothersideMagazine also includes creative cartoons depicting Gray as a vampire.
But Moten said he's not being paid by the Fenty campaign so he does not have to disclose his work in support of the mayor.
"It's my magazine," Moten said. "I'm not being being paid, so what's the difference between me and DC Watch and me and the Washington Post or Washington Examiner?"