“The [ward] coordinators actually paid the money out to the workers,” Brown said.
Her comments underscore the extent of the legal troubles concerning Gray’s official mayoral effort, including guilty pleas from three associates in a federal probe of the campaign. Brown’s allegations show a cash-fueled effort to get out the vote for Gray (D) but one that can’t easily be deciphered in records filed with campaign finance officials.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, more than $653,000 was secretly poured into a separate “shadow campaign” whose spending was never reported. The campaign finance office has expanded an audit of the campaign to review the unreported expenses detailed by prosecutors this week as well as the payments to campaign workers.
Brown would not say whether the records were intentionally mischaracterized or the result of shoddy bookkeeping by the campaign. It’s unclear how many workers were paid or whether their payments exceeded the $50 maximum set by city laws.
Several former campaign workers said longtime Gray associate Thomas W. Gore oversaw the assembling of the financial reports, including the filing of the documents with campaign finance staff members. He was the first Gray associate to plead guilty to federal charges as part of the ongoing investigation.
Brown acknowledged that she had been interviewed by investigators but said they did not talk about money distributed to field workers, including $50,000 on primary day. “They didn’t question me about that,” she said, adding that she is not concerned that she would be charged.
She declined to comment further about the investigation or her duties as treasurer. Gray did not return requests for comment.
This week, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said the 2010 mayoral race was “corrupted by a massive infusion of cash” that was concealed as part of the “shadow campaign.”
Several Gray campaign operatives have pleaded guilty to federal felonies related to illicit payoffs made to Sulaimon Brown, a mayoral candidate who alleges that he was paid to verbally harass then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D). Gray had denied Brown’s allegations.
Gore faces 12 to 18 months in prison after admitting in May to shredding a notebook detailing secret payments to Sulaimon Brown. That same week, campaign aide Howard L. Brooks pleaded guilty to making a false statement and admitted his role in the payments to Brown.
Public relations consultant Jeanne Clarke Harris pleaded guilty this week to several charges, admitting that she helped orchestrate the “shadow campaign,” which was funded by $653,800 from local businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson. He has not been charged.