November 2, 2013

“WHEN IS somebody satisfied?” That is the question D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) had the audacity to pose when asked Friday whether he owed the public an explanation of his understanding of the crimes that tarred his 2010 campaign. “I’m not sure what else to say. . . . The first 10 questions will lead to 10 more questions will lead to 10 more questions.”

In fact, the mayor has refused to fully answer any of the questions surrounding the illegal shadow campaign that helped elect him in 2010. But that seems not to trouble him. Indeed, it became pretty clear during his appearance Friday on WAMU’s “The Politics Hour” that Mr. Gray doesn’t think he has to answer to anyone — including the voters he may ask to return him to office.

There is an ongoing federal investigation into Mr. Gray’s 2010 campaign, with prosecutors uncovering evidence of backroom deals and massive amounts of money illegally contributed and spent. Prosecutors have said the activities were coordinated with the campaign but have not said Mr. Gray knew of them. The mayor, on the advice of his private attorney, has declined requests to meet with prosecutors or comment on the revelations about the campaign. He was more expansive Friday, but he still failed to offer detailed or convincing responses.

Asked on WAMU why his long-time friends and campaign associates, four of whom have pleaded guilty to federal charges, thought it okay to cheat on his behalf, Mr. Gray said: “I can’t answer that. . . . I have no idea.” He allowed that it was “very unfortunate” that misdeeds occurred, but said, “I didn’t do anything” and “you can’t possibly know many of the things going on in your campaign.” Is “unfortunate” the best word the mayor could muster for what the U.S. attorney has called a corruption of the election process?

Mr. Gray is expected to announce soon whether he will seek a second term. He had private gatherings last week with supporters. The Post’s Mike DeBonis reported there are signs of Mr. Gray’s political operation coming to life. Donors have been asked to save the date of Nov. 19 for his 71st birthday party. Mr. Gray’s emboldened performance Friday suggests he thinks he can run without offering an accounting of what he knew — or why he did not know — about the illicit behavior that propelled him into the mayor’s office. Maybe he thinks people will forget or get tired of asking.

That calculation is insulting to D.C. voters. So the answer to Mr. Gray’s question — “When is somebody satisfied?” — is: When he answers the simple questions about his 2010 campaign that he has dodged for two years.

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