In addition to Brown’s allegations, investigators are examining possible irregularities in money-order donations to Gray’s campaign, some of which appear to have violated city campaign regulations, the sources said.
The mayor and senior campaign staff members have denied any wrongdoing related to either Brown’s allegations or the money-order donations.
Through their questioning of campaign staff members and their interest in campaign documents, investigators appear to be focusing on consultant Howard L. Brooks and possibly others in the Gray campaign, said two sources with knowledge of the probe.
Authorities are trying to determine whether Brooks, a close friend of Gray campaign Chairwoman Lorraine A. Green’s, passed Brown the alleged payments. Brooks and Green have denied any wrongdoing.
Federal investigators have secured fingerprints from Brown and Brooks, according to people with direct knowledge of the probe, who spoke anonymously because they are not authorized to talk publicly about the investigation. It could not be learned who else has been asked to submit fingerprints. The fingerprints could help identify anyone who might have handled documents, money orders or envelopes with cash that Brown claims the Gray campaign gave him or who might have handled apparently fraudulent money-order donations to the mayor’s campaign.
Gray took office with great expectations and the general goodwill of the city. But a Washington Post poll in June found that trust in him has eroded since Brown’s allegations became public and the U.S. attorney’s office began its investigation. Gray has stumbled in hiring staff — missteps at times magnified by ongoing investigations, including one by a congressional oversight committee.
With federal authorities asking questions across the city and presenting their case to a grand jury, Gray’s administration remains under considerable scrutiny.
U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. declined to be interviewed about the investigation. But his spokesman, Bill Miller, said, “We are continuing to look into this.”
Federal authorities want to determine whether there was a quid pro quo when the administration hired Brown as a $110,000-a-year special assistant in the Department of Health Care Finance and whether contributions were illegally funneled to Gray’s and Brown’s campaigns, the sources said.
Gray has said that he promised Brown a job interview, not a job, and that the offer was not made in return for attacks on Fenty.