D.C. Mayor Gray disappointed in public’s view of his administration

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray said he is disappointed in the public’s view that he is failing to create more jobs or improve city services and public schools, as shown in a Washington Post poll.

More than six in every 10 residents told The Post that Gray is doing a not-so-good or poor job of creating employment — despite the administration’s efforts to promote an initiative to put thousands of residents back to work. “I think we’re clearly dealing with the perception that is not a reality,” Gray (D) said in an interview Thursday. “I think the city is running pretty well. We’ve done everything we said we were going to do. . . . You see one thing, and it colors everything else.”

Gray declined to comment further on the poll, which found that 54 percent of respondents think the mayor should step down amid the campaign corruption scandal that has saddled his first 18 months in office.

Three Gray associates have pleaded guilty in the U.S. attorney’s office investigation, with two admitting to their roles in secretly paying a minor mayoral candidate to attack then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty during the 2010 campaign. A third has acknowledged involvement in a $653,800 “shadow campaign” to help the mayor get elected.

Although U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. has said the illegal activities “compromised” the 2010 election, federal authorities have not said Gray participated in or had any knowledge of the events.

The allegations against his campaign and the ensuing investigation appear to have driven public opinion that he is dishonest and not to be trusted. In the poll, 61 percent of residents did not believe he is honest and trustworthy. That is a reversal from a Post poll before the 2010 Democratic primary that showed six in 10 believed he was honest.

Despite media requests, Gray again declined to comment on the probe Thursday, saying he would defer to his attorney to respond to the investigation and the poll. “I’ll leave it with him at this stage,” he said.

Robert S. Bennett, Gray’s personal attorney, said in a written statement earlier Thursday that his client “is being treated very unfairly by some in the media and those with their own political agendas.”

“They are not focusing on the very good things he is doing for our city — the improvements he has made in city services, the local economy and the welfare of the less fortunate in our community,” he said.

Bennett, of the Hogan Lovells firm, did not address specific questions about the investigation, such as whether Gray knew of or participated in the recently revealed shadow campaign.

Bennett, who is well known for having represented President Bill Clinton during his personal scandals in the late 1990s, reiterated that he has advised Gray not to comment on the revelations “out of respect for the U.S. attorney’s investigation.”

“Nevertheless,” he said, “you should not disregard the presumption of innocence, to which all Americans are entitled, including Mayor Gray.”

Only 8 percent of poll respondents said they think the federal investigations of Gray and other D.C. political figures have been unfair.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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