Earlier this month, Washington businessman Jeffrey Thompson's lawyers said that D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) knew about an illegal fundraising operation run by Thompson that helped Gray win the 2010 election. Gray maintains his innocence, but he says if he's indicted he'll remain in office.
He wouldn't be the first politician to do so.
It turns out there's a long tradition of public officials remaining in office after being indicted. After all, they and their lawyers remind us, they're innocent until proven guilty.
Were Gray to be indicted and stay in office, he wouldn't be the first D.C. mayor to do so. When Marion Barry was arrested as part of an FBI sting for possession of crack cocaine in August 1990, he remained in office until 1991, even after he was convicted on drug charges. He lost a race for city council the following month, but the self-proclaimed "mayor for life" was again elected in 1995, a position he held until 1999.
The former Democratic congressman from northeast Ohio known for his pompadour toupee and colorful comments (including rants on the House floor against the IRS) was indicted in 2001 on bribery, racketeering and tax evasion charges. Traficant not only stayed in Congress; he filed to run for re-election after being convicted on the charges in 2002. He ended up with 15 percent of the vote. Traficant was expelled from the House in 2002 by a vote of 420-1. California Rep. Gary Condit, who had problems of his own at the time, was the only member who voted against expulsion. Traficant did a seven-year stint in federal prison, where he took up painting. Jimbo, as he is known, was welcomed back to Youngstown at a packed party complete with an Elvis impersonator and toupee contest when he was released. He filed papers to run for Congress as an independent in 2010. He lost to a former aide, Tim Ryan.
VINCENT A. "BUDDY" CIANCI
The former mayor of Providence, R.I., was tossed from office in the 1980s after allegedly beating his estranged wife's lover with a fireplace log and burning him with a lit cigarette. After a few years as a radio talk show host and man about town, Cianci was re-elected in 1991. After spurring the revitalization of Providence's downtown and hawking jars of "Mayor's Marinara" sauce (all proceeds went to charity) he was indicted on corruption charges 2001 and re-elected to a sixth term. Cianci, the former prosecutor for Rhode Island's organized crime unit was convicted of racketeering conspiracy the following year and forced to resign from office. Cianci received a hero's welcome back in Providence and became a talk show host (again). Rumors are swirling that Cianci might try for another mayoral run later this year. Like Traficant, Cianci was also known for his horrible toupee.
During his 18th term in Congress, the Illinois Democrat and powerful speaker of the Ways and Means Committee was indicted on charges of abuse of his Congressional payroll and obstruction of justice. He vowed to stay in office but did have to give up the chairmanship. "I am confident that I will be vindicated, and I look forward to the return of the gavel," Rostenkowski said at the time.
But Rostenkowski, a behind-the-scenes wheeler dealer brought up through the Chicago political machine, never got to bang the gavel again. He lost his 1994 re-election bid. Two years later he negotiated another deal -- a plea that sent him to federal prison for 15 months.
Jefferson may go down in history as the guy who stashed $90,000 of what prosecutors said was bribe money in his freezer in a veggie burger box. The former Congressman from Louisiana was indicted in 2007 on charges of money laundering, bribery, obstruction of justice and racketeering. He refused to step down, but was voted out in 2008. Jefferson was convicted of bribery, money laundering and racketeering in 2009 and sentenced to 13 years in prison, the longest term ever for a former -- or sitting -- Member of Congress.