D.C. Mayor Gray defies resignation demands

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray vowed Thursday he would not resign, even as he refused to answer additional questions about an investigation that revealed details of an illegal shadow campaign that helped elect him in 2010.

"I have no intentions of resigning," said Gray, who has denied wrongdoing. "You have to look at the people who did it."

But Gray has been under siege since federal prosecutors disclosed that he benefited from a $653,800 shadow campaign, the latest scar on a political success story that had already been tarnished by the May convictions of two aides.

Quitters
Two prominent District officials have resigned this year because of criminal probes.
January: Ward 5 D.C. Councilman Harry Thomas Jr.
June: D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown

Three D.C. Council members -- David Catania, Mary Cheh and Muriel Bowser -- have demanded that Gray step down, prompting the mayor to scramble to shore up his support in the John A. Wilson Building in a series of meetings and phone calls.

Gray has for now retained the support of a strong majority of city lawmakers, officials with knowledge of the conversations told The Washington Examiner. Most are reserving judgment until U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. finishes his work.

"Just let the process play out," said Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans, the council's longest-serving member.

Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry, no stranger to legal issues, also said Gray should not quit as federal authorities continue their expansive probe.

"Hell no," Barry said when asked about whether Gray should resign. "I believe in the judicial process. I believe in the Constitution."

The legal process and its length have grown frustrating, Gray said, because he wants to describe his knowledge of his campaign's activities. Gray's criminal defense attorney has counseled the mayor to avoid discussing the investigation, but that led Gray to another public interaction that left more questions than answers.

"I'm a very forthcoming person," Gray told a pack of reporters as he declined to discuss the probe. "I don't think one would throw their lawyer's advice away. I think that would be a very foolish thing to do."

But D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said Gray must move rapidly to advance beyond the scandal.

"The criminal conduct by his campaign aides revealed in court is deeply disturbing and goes to the heart of the democratic process," Norton said. "Mayor Gray has an obligation to clear this matter up quickly."

Several Wilson Building officials spent part of Thursday gaming out scenarios for the special election that would take place if Gray were to leave office.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who took the reins of the D.C. Council in June after a different scandal prompted former Chairman Kwame Brown's exit from city politics, would succeed Gray and become the District's first white mayor.

The special election, though, could become especially competitive. At least four lawmakers -- including Bowser and Evans -- are thought to be interested in pursuing the city's top job.

Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells has already said he's considering a run in the 2014 election, but he has reiterated that he remains supportive of Gray.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Alan Blinder

Staff Reporter, D.C. City Hall
The Washington Examiner