D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) denied prosecutors’ allegations on Monday that he knew of and was complicit in businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson’s “shadow campaign” — a secret effort to funnel more than $2 million in illegal campaign contributions toward Gray’s 2010 mayoral run.
“It’s shocking to me. Lies. These are lies,” Gray said in an interview in his sixth-floor office at the Wilson Building, the District’s city hall.
The mayor accused Thompson of fabricating whole-cloth exchanges that implicated Gray in knowing of the illicit spending on his behalf.
Thompson’s only apparent motivation, Gray added, was to lessen the amount of time the businessman would spend in jail. “He’s had plenty of time to think about this.”
Gray, however, did confirm one new detail alleged by prosecutors in their painstaking accounting of the shadow campaign scheme: Jeffrey Thompson was “Uncle Earl.”
The stealth nickname — based of Thompson’s middle name — wasn’t an effort to skirt campaign finance law, Gray said. It was intended to shield Thompson’s identity and his work for Gray from then-mayor Adrian Fenty, who was running for reelection and whom Thompson was also backing financially.
“That part is true, he asked me to refer to him as Uncle Earl,” Gray said. “I asked many people to raise money for my campaign – legitimately.”
“Initially he said ‘no,’ and he came back, and . . . because I think he was raising money for Fenty during that campaign also,” Gray said. “My sense was that he didn’t want it to be known that he was raising money for me because of fear of retribution.
“That’s where the Uncle Earl thing came from, that’s true. That part is true, he asked me to refer to him as Uncle Earl” so that Fenty wouldn’t know.
“That was my impression.”