“I was bled dry,” Alexander said in an interview Friday. “That’s why you don’t see me running for a damn thing since.”
He said he also met with Gray about two weeks later at a home in Prince George’s County to have another conversation about leaving the race.
On Friday, the mayor acknowledged talking with Alexander about the race, including the meeting at the Mitchellville home, but denied that he told Alexander to speak with Harris.
“I talked to Leo Alexander a lot during the campaign. . . . I don’t know what I said, but the essence of it was, ‘I think I can win this campaign. I don’t think you can. And have you thought about getting out?’ That was the end of it,” Gray said.
Alexander said he did not ask for, nor was he offered, money to drop out of the race. But his recollection of separate meetings with Gray and Harris highlights last-minute efforts to give the mayor an edge in the contentious race against then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. Alexander’s allegations also point to a potential new intersection between Gray and the “shadow campaign” Harris has admitted she helped organize.
Harris pleaded guilty in U,S, District Court last year to her role in a large-scale scheme to evade legal limits on political contributions and spending. She admitted that she participated in a $653,000 clandestine effort that ran parallel to the official Gray campaign. The funding, according to court records, came from a co-conspirator whom officials familiar with the investigation have identified as businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson.
The $653,000 was deposited into the bank account of a company owned by Harris, according to the filings. Harris then disbursed the funds to pay for consultants as well as campaign materials and equipment used by the shadow campaign.
Thompson has not been charged, and his attorneys have declined to comment since federal agents raided homes and offices belonging to Thompson and Harris on the same day last year.
Harris referred questions to her attorney, Mark H. Tuohey III, who declined to comment.
When charges were filed against Harris last year, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. described the 2010 mayoral election as one “compromised by backroom deals, secret payments and a flood of unreported cash.” A federal investigation into the campaign has also led to pleas from Gray campaign consultant Howard L. Brooks and assistant campaign treasurer Thomas W. Gore.
Brooks and Gore have admitted their roles in secret payments to another mayoral candidate, Sulaimon Brown, to disparage Fenty on the campaign trail in 2010. Gray has denied any wrongdoing, but his administration has been dogged by the federal probe since March 2011, when The Washington Post reported Brown’s allegations of payments and the promise of a job for his attacks on Fenty.