December 3, 2013

ANNOUNCING HIS decision to seek reelection, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) asserted that he has “done the best job I could to address the 2010 campaign. I think I’ve put a lot to rest.” It is an astonishing claim from a politician who has refused to answer many questions, declined to meet with federal prosecutors and whose administration has withheld key documents prosecutors are seeking. If this is his final answer about the corruption that suffused his first campaign, it should give serious pause to the voters to whom Mr. Gray is appealing for a second vote of confidence.

Mr. Gray on Monday ended months of speculation when he showed up at the D.C. Board of Elections shortly after 4 p.m. to pick up nominating petitions for the April 1 Democratic primary. He said he won’t formally launch his campaign until next year, but he made clear he will seek to focus on the accomplishments of his first term. “Our work is not done,” read a letter that was e-mailed to supporters.

“I said, ‘I didn’t do anything.’ That’s the answer I’ve given,” was his response to the scandals that accompanied his 2010 campaign and the early days of his administration. In a testy exchange with reporters on Tuesday, he refused to entertain any questions about the past or the ongoing probe by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. that has seen four people associated with his campaign — including longtime friends Vernon Hawkins and Jeanne Clarke Harris — plead guilty to felonies.

“I didn’t do anything” — is that the best District residents can expect? It is a response that doesn’t begin to address the issues that surround what federal prosecutors have characterized as an election tainted by backroom deals and massive infusions of illegal cash, allegedly from a businessman with major city contracts.

How and when did Mr. Gray learn of the secret and illegal shadow campaign that was waged on his behalf? Is it correct, as a former campaign worker told The Post’s Nikita Stewart, that the worker raised questions with Mr. Gray about the source of funds for Mr. Hawkins’s field operation in the summer of 2010? What was the purpose of a meeting in the spring of 2010 at Ms. Harris’s apartment between Mr. Gray and Jeffrey E. Thompson, the city contractor believed to have financed the shadow campaign? When Mr. Gray again met with Mr. Thompson after his election, what was discussed? Did the topic of his city contracts come up? What were Mr. Gray’s dealings with Sulaimon Brown, the minor party candidate whose allegations of a quid pro quo — trashing Mr. Gray’s chief opponent in exchange for cash and a city job — sparked the federal investigation?

These are just some of the questions Mr. Gray has not “put to rest.” Nor has he denounced or apologized for the criminal actions of his aides. “This is not the campaign we intended to run” is the best the mayor was able to muster after Ms. Harris pleaded guilty. Illegal acts helped Mr. Gray get into office, and voters need answers before they can decide if he should stay.

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