Supporters of embattled D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said Wednesday that he should not step down after revelations that an illegal shadow campaign helped elect him in 2010.
"We cannot continue to be people who rush to judgment," the Rev. Graylan Hagler of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ said at a rally outside the John A. Wilson Building. "We believe that the mayor deserves due process. The mayor deserves respect. The mayor deserves fairness."
The Rev. Willie Wilson of Union Temple Baptist Church said authorities should investigate the campaigns of each person who ran for mayor in 2010, but he pointedly referenced the political apparatus of Adrian Fenty, the then-incumbent mayor who was Gray's rival.
"If you were to scrutinize all of the campaigns of the individuals who ran for mayor, you might find something," Wilson told a few dozen supporters. "If you look at anything hard enough and long enough, you will be able to find something wrong."
Fenty could not be reached for comment.
Gray has been under fire since federal prosecutors last week disclosed the existence of a $653,800 shadow campaign that paid for staff members and supplies.
"The mayoral campaign was compromised by backroom deals, secret payments and a flood of unreported cash," U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. said last week.
Jeanne Clarke Harris, a onetime communications aide to Gray, pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme that day, making her the third person linked to the Gray campaign to face prosecution.
Officials familiar with the probe have said that Jeffrey Thompson, one of the District's most prolific campaign donors and a city contractor, bankrolled the effort. Thompson has not been charged.
Prosecutors also have not filed charges against Gray, who acknowledged last week that the 2010 campaign was "not the campaign we intended to run."
But for several city lawmakers -- Muriel Bowser, David Catania and Mary Cheh -- the existence of a shadow campaign made Gray an illegitimate officeholder. All three demanded that he step down.
"Whether or not he knew of the massive election fraud that was taking place in his name, he is responsible for it," Cheh said.
The lawmakers have stood by their criticisms, though Gray described them as politically motivated and misguided.
At the time of the rally, Gray was traveling to an appearance in St. Mary's County in Southern Maryland, about two hours from the District. A mayoral spokesman said Gray played no role in organizing the show of support.