But most residents, including Ward 7’s Paul Savage and Ward 1’s Terry Lynch, believe Machen has helped. “A lot of people have fallen on the wrong side of the law,” Savage, a respected civic leader, told me. “No one, over the years, has held anyone to account for any indiscretion that has gone on.”
“It’s hard to see how he’s been taking his time,” said Lynch, the director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations. “The results speak for themselves. There has already been a political tsunami.”
Three erstwhile members of the D.C. Council have pleaded guilty to federal felonies. Today, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is expected to sentence Thomas Gore, the former assistant treasurer of Gray’s 2010 campaign for his role in illegally funneling money between that campaign and another. Gore also destroyed records of those payments and lied about it.
Two other individuals, Howard L. Brooks and Jeanne Clarke Harris, also have pleaded guilty to felony charges for their roles. Brooks actually made the illegal payments to the other campaign. Harris admitted to helping with the development and operation of an off-the-books, $653,000 “shadow campaign,” allegedly financed by millionaire businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson.
Last week, Thompson agreed to allow the feds to extend the statute of limitations in their probe of possible illegal, third-party contributions he allegedly made to national and local campaigns. That extension could mean bad news for Gray.
In demurring about his future, Gray has taken a page straight from Marion Barry’s playbook. Between 1995 and 1998 — Barry’s fourth and final mayoral term — the congressionally created financial control board bruised him significantly, stripping him of authority over large sections of the city government, diluting his influence and leaving him politically impotent. Still, Barry pranced, postured and pretended to be unaffected, even as several council members announced their intention to run for his job. He became the epitome of the clothes-less emperor but refused to acknowledge that reality. There also were major hurdles to retrieving the powers and prerogatives of the office in any bid for a fifth term. Barry eventually chose not to run for reelection.
Gray lacks the base Barry had then, said one of several political consultants I spoke with, who has been involved for years in local affairs and requested anonymity. “Plus the geographic and demographic dynamics have changed,” he added. “They’ve even changed since 2010.”