Report: Gray knew of shadow campaign in January

Photo - D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (Graeme Jennings/Examiner file photo)
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (Graeme Jennings/Examiner file photo)
Local,DC,Alan Blinder

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray discussed the activities of a $653,800 shadow campaign in January with a woman who has since pleaded guilty to federal and local charges, the Washington Post reported late Wednesday.

The newspaper said that Gray met with Jeanne Clarke Harris, a onetime communications consultant for his campaign, on Jan. 10 to discuss the illicit spending, which helped to pay for staff members and thousands of yard signs, stickers, shirts and other campaign materials.

Ahead of the meeting in the John A. Wilson Building, Harris purportedly created invoices for the shadow campaign’s expenditures to assist in reporting them to District campaign finance regulators.

A spokesman for Gray did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Robert Bennett, the mayor’s criminal defense attorney, declined to comment to the Post, citing the ongoing investigation.

The Post said the meeting took place as the Office of Campaign Finance was conducting a full investigative audit of the Gray campaign. Officials in that agency recently said they were reviewing the report ahead of its public issuance, but the Post reported that regulators were planning to expand their probe in the aftermath of the findings of the federal investigators.

The meeting also took place before FBI agents raided Harris’ home and office, along with those of Jeffrey Thompson, a major donor to District political campaigns. Thompson is believed to have played a role in financing the shadow campaign, but he has not been charged.

Soon after the raids, reports of a shadow campaign first emerged, but prosecutors did not confirm that the operation had occurred until Harris pleaded guilty Tuesday to a trio of conspiracy and fraud charges.

On Wednesday, Gray declined to detail his knowledge of the shadow campaign’s activities, but he said that the combination of official and underground efforts was “not the campaign we intended to run.”

Three city lawmakers have called on Gray to resign, but the mayor said he has no plans to exit public office.

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