Gray to roll out campaign finance reforms

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's self-imposed deadline to reveal his plans for campaign finance reform will arrive Tuesday as his campaign for the city's top job remains under investigation and the District's new ethics board remains inoperable.

On April 4, Gray pledged he would roll out "our own overall, comprehensive view of campaign finance reform here in the city." At the time, the mayor declined to specify any changes he might seek.

Since then, D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan has reviewed the city's campaign finance laws, in an audit Gray said would determine the bulk of his proposal.

"The attorney general is working on it and we expect to have a proposal out shortly," mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said.

Gray's deadline is the same day Ward 5 voters will vote for a replacement for former D.C. Councilman Harry Thomas Jr., who resigned in January in connection with his guilty plea for filing false tax returns and stealing more than $350,000 in public money.

Thomas' May 3 sentencing, though, did not mark the end of the ethical cloud that has loomed over the John A. Wilson Building for months.

In March, federal authorities raided the home and offices of Jeffrey Thompson, a prolific contributor to campaigns in the District. Thompson's accounting firm, which was the target of one search, acknowledged the raids were tied to a federal probe of campaign finance practices in the District.

Through the years, Thompson and a network of friends, family members and business associates were generous donors to District politicians, giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates, especially incumbents.

No one, including Thompson, has been charged in connection with the probes, but Gray and Council Chairman Kwame Brown have both acknowledged that their campaigns are under investigation. Soon after the Thompson raids, Brown was among the lawmakers who said they had received subpoenas from prosecutors about their contacts with the financier.

The probes into Gray, Brown and Thomas also prompted city leaders to overhaul the District's ethics laws. In January, Gray signed a measure establishing a new Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, but he has still not named his three appointees to the panel. By law, he was to have made his picks by mid-March.

Earlier this month, Gray pledged to send his selections to the D.C. Council for approval by June 5.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

Alan Blinder

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