D.C. corruption scandals: A primer

Since 2012, three D.C. Council members have pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges. Federal prosecutors have also probed in to Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s 2010 campaign. A look at the investigations and where they stand:

  • Michael A. Brown
  • Kwame Brown
  • Harry Thomas
  • Gray Campaign
Michael A. Brown

Michael A. Brown

On June 10, 2013, the former city council member pleaded guilty to federal charges connected to accepting payments from undercover agents he thought were businessmen seeking D.C. government contracting preferences. In a deal worked out with federal prosecutors, Brown agreed to serve up to three years and one month in prison for accepting $55,000 in bribes. In June 2012, Brown's D.C. Council campaign was marred by the questionable disappearance of $114,000 from his campaign account. The missing funds played into questions about Brown’s financial history, which included a federal income tax lien, late mortgage payments and missed rent checks.


“I’ve been having to answer a lot of questions, for things I had nothing to do with.”

– Brown, Feb. 26, 2013

Kwame Brown

Kwame R. Brown

The former city council chairman resigned and pleaded guilty to bank fraud in June 2012 after being charged in federal court for falsifying bank records to obtain a home equity loan and boat. He was also charged and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor use of 2008 campaign funds. On Nov. 13, 2012, Brown was sentenced to one day in the custody of federal marshals and six months of home detention.


“I’m not worried one bit.”

– Brown, May 2012

“ . . . I made some very serious mistakes and judgments. And I have taken full and sole responsibility for those mistakes.”

– Brown, June 8, 2012

Harry Thomas

Harry Thomas, Jr.

Thomas pleaded guilty in January 2012 on two felony counts — one of embezzling $353,500 of public funds via the nonprofit youth program ‘Team Thomas’ he controlled from May 2007 to August 2009, and a second count of not reporting $346,000 on his 2007, 2008 and 2009 tax returns. In May 2012, he was sentenced in federal court to three years in prison.


“They are on a very useless fishing expedition.”

– Thomas, October 2010

“Guilty as charged.”

– Thomas, Jan. 6, 2012

Vincent Gray

Vincent C. Gray

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI have conducted an investigation into certain aspects of Mayor Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign finances and hiring practices. In May 2012, two people involved in his campaign fundraising pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions and payment a third candidate to disparage then-mayor Adrian M. Fenty. By July 2012, the investigation had broadened to include contributions to various candidates dating back to 2003.


“I get up in the morning every day and look in the mirror and I see somebody I respect.”

– Gray, July 7, 2012

Thomas W. Gore
Gray campaign's assistant treasurer

Pleaded guilty in May 2012 to charges that he made illegal campaign contributions to Sulaimon Brown and destroyed records documenting payoffs.

Sulaimon Brown
Former mayoral candidate

Has said Gray campaign staffers gave him cash and money orders to disparage then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in the 2010 primary campaign and was promised a job in Gray’s administration.

Howard L. Brooks
Gray campaign consultant

Pleaded guilty in May 2012 to charges that he lied to federal investigators about giving cash or money orders to Sulaimon Brown for discrediting Fenty.

Jeanne Clarke Harris
Gray campaign consultant

Pleaded guilty July 10, 2012, describing a well-equipped “shadow campaign” to disburse and conceal $653,800 secretly paid for by businessman Jeffrey Thompson.

Jeffrey E. Thompson
Gray campaign financer, prominent city contractor

His campaign financing for D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange and others is being investigated. His home and office were also searched by federal investigators in March but he has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

SOURCE: Staff reports. GRAPHIC: Kathryn Faulkner and Cristina Rivero/The Washington Post. Published June 8, 2012. Updated June 10, 2013.