Reuben C. Charles II, a businessman who runs D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray's mayoral campaign, helped launch a local company created to assist white-collar criminals who had been sentenced to prison.
The disclosure, reported on by the Washington City Paper and later by the Web site DC Watch, comes as Charles is consolidating his influence as Gray prepares to launch his transition after the Nov. 2 general election.
According to Charles, he invested in a company called ISA White Collar Prison Consultants, which describes itself as a "boutique practice group of premiere prison, sentencing and business consultants." A press release the company issued in February said the company "fills the void and manages any and all needs" for executives who face prison time for white-collar crimes.
The company boasts that it has "first-hand experience in navigating the waters of the federal prison system" because Fred Mosely and Charles Polk were consultants for the firm.
Polk, a one-time legal adviser to former attorney general John Ashcroft and a former counsel to the the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, was sentenced in 2006 to four and half years in federal prison for tax evasion and wire fraud.
Mosley served more than seven years in prison after he was indicted and convicted of receiving kickbacks from a private contractor when he was a municipal court judge in the 1980s, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
The newspaper identified Charles as the president of ISA White Collar Prison Consultants. But in an interview with The Post Thursday, Charles denied he was the president of the firm.
Charles described his involvement as being "an investor in a start-up."
"It was an investment in a startup and nothing crazier than that," Charles said. "The opportunity was creating firms that provide services that go beyond the scope of legal representation and business management assets. It's a full-service firm for folks in business trouble and, so, I was asked to invest in it, and that is it."
Charles said the company is no longer active.
"It was a start up that never really got off the ground," he said.
Charles, a venture capitalist who moved to the District from St. Louis about three years ago, has quickly risen through the ranks of the Gray campaign. He started off as a fund-raiser, but he and Gray quickly found they worked well together.
In the closing days of the primary campaign, Charles took over the day-to-day operations of Gray's effort, replacing campaign manager Adam Rubinson. Charles has been mentioned as a possible chief of staff in a Gray administration and is expected to take a leading role in the transition.
D.C. Watch, run by civic activist Dorothy Brizill and her husband, Gary Imhoff, questioned whether Gray had fully vetted Charles.
"It raises concerns that go beyond Gray," Brizill and Imhoff write. "Neither Gray nor his campaign vetted Charles' background adequately."
But Charles said Gray and other top officials within the campaign knew of his investment in the ISA White Collar Prison Consultant. Top sources within the campaign confirm that they also knew of Charles' connection to the firm.
This Post was updated at 5:55 p.m.