Vincent Gray revives denials of campaign wrongdoing


Gray, seen during his 2010 campaign, reiterated Friday he did nothing wrong for the first time in months. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Mayor Vincent C. Gray, in a radio appearance Friday, made his most unequivocal statement in months about his messy 2010 election campaign, saying he “did nothing wrong” as federal authorities continue their investigation.

Gray (D) phoned in to WAMU-FM’s Politics Hour, where co-host Tom Sherwood pressed the mayor on whether he would run for a second term and whether, if he did, he would address unanswered questions about illegal activities in his previous campaign.

“Well, I think there are questions that will be asked, Tom, and we’ll be prepared,” Gray said. “I have said I did nothing wrong from the very beginning. And I’m not going to change that position. There’s no reason for me to change that position. … I have said that, and I will say it again and again.”

In fact, for the past year or so, Gray has said not much of anything about the ongoing investigation — which is indeed ongoing, with a grand jury meeting as recently as last week to review evidence.

In the period between when Sulaimon Brown first made his allegations of secret cash payoffs in March 2011 to when a “shadow campaign” was detailed during court proceedings in the summer of 2012, the mayor’s denials of any wrongdoing were routine. Since the investigation broadened to implicate businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson, he has steadfastly refused to comment on the investigation.

So is the new round of denials an indication that he will soon launch a re-election campaign?

Gray stuck to his old talking points on that one, highlighting the accomplishments of his administration and making note that ballot petitions will be made available for pickup on Nov. 8.

“Obviously, the time is becoming more compressed, and we are going to get to a decision within the next few weeks,” he said. “I don’t have a specific date as yet when I’m going to make an announcement.”

Should that announcement indeed be that Gray will seek a second term, he offered a preview of his pitch to divorce his previous campaign’s shenanigans from his administration’s accomplishments: “There really have been no issues with this administration in terms of untoward activity. You look at the things that we said we were going to do, those are the things that we have done.”

“It’s very unfortunate things happened during that campaign,” he added, “but they did happen during the campaign and not during this administration’s work on behalf of the people of the city.”

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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Mike DeBonis · October 18, 2013

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