Vincent Gray, presumptive next D.C. mayor, to raise private money for transition

On Tuesday night, Democratic mayoral nominee Vincent Gray fielded questions in the first of a series of town hall meetings before the Nov. 2 general election in the auditorium of the Community Academy Public Charter School in Ward 5.
By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 19, 2010; 11:40 PM

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, the District's presumptive next mayor, will not accept a lump sum from taxpayers to fund his transition but instead will raise unregulated, private money from donors.

Under emergency legislation that cleared the council Tuesday, immediately after the Nov. 2 general election, outgoing Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) will be required to supply Gray's transition staff with work space, supplies, office furniture and city-owned vehicles.

But unlike in 2006, when the council allocated $250,000 to fund the transition from former mayor Anthony Williams (D) to Fenty, the city is not giving Gray a direct payment for staffing and other costs.

Gray (D) said he decided not to accept city money because the District is facing a $175 million shortfall in the current year's budget.

"This is to make sure taxpayers don't have to pay to get it done," Gray said.

Yet Gray's decision to raise the money from private sources is raising questions about what limits, if any, will be placed on the type and amount of donations he can receive. Under District law, individuals, corporations and labor unions cannot contribute more than $2,000 to a political candidate. But District campaign finance laws do not extend to the transition period, said Wesley Williams, a spokesman for the Office of Campaign Finance.

In a meeting with reporters after the council vote, Gray was unable to say how much he plans to raise for his transition and what types and amounts of donations he plans to solicit.

"We will comply with the rules, no matter what they may be," Gray said.

When a reporter told Gray that there were no "rules," Gray responded, "You propose the rules that you think are problematic, and we will abide."

Reuben C. Charles II, director of operations for Gray's campaign, said the chairman will establish a nonprofit 501(c)(4) organ to collect donations to fund the transition. Charles added that the campaign plans to adhere to "self-imposed" contribution limits but has not decided what they will be. Charles also promised that Gray will make his donors' names public.

"We are going to keep it clean," Charles said. "He is adamant about not taking money from the city, and I hope everyone respects that."

Gray also plans to establish a separate account to raise money for his inauguration, which has become customary for District mayors in recent years.

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