The R word (resign) comes up in Gray controversy

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Local,Liz Farmer
As a federal grand jury probe into Mayor Vincent Gray's 2010 campaign persists, one veteran political observer is wondering whether the mayor's reign in city hall will outlast the investigation.

"It may be getting to the point where the mayor might consider resigning if he believes this investigation [is] preventing him from really getting the work of the city done," said Terry Lynch, a longtime civic activist who is the executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations. "Hopefully this can get resolved soon one way or the other."

But others note the leaked information about the investigation has yet to directly implicate Gray, and they predict his administration will weather the scandal as an early bump in the road.

"Usually, if it's not the person themselves thinking about resigning, it's someone close to that person, and usually that doesn't happen until there's some sort of inevitability," said political consultant Bud Jackson. "It's so not even appropriate here yet."

A Gray spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.

The investigation is looking into former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown's accusations that members of Gray's mayoral campaign gave him cash-stuffed envelopes and money orders so he would stay in the race and keep up his verbal assault on then-Mayor Adrian Fenty. When Gray took the mayor's office, Brown was given a $110,000-a-year city job.

Gray tried to deflect attention away from himself this past week when he said at a news conference that he had not submitted his fingerprints to the FBI nor had he been asked to. Sources have said fingerprints have been taken from Brown and Gray campaign consultant Howard Brooks and that investigators are focusing on Gray campaign Chairwoman Lorraine A. Green, Brooks and others.

Brooks has reportedly begun cooperating with the FBI and has worn a wire to assist the investigation, but Gray said last week that he had not spoken to his former campaign consultant all year.

Brooks' son, Peyton, has been offered immunity in exchange for his testimony, the Washington Post first reported. On offer of immunity often mean criminal charges are in play.

Others have simply called the grand jury probe a distraction for the city but worry it will drag on for years.

"Look at how long Whitewater went on for the Clinton [administration]," Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans told The Washington Examiner last week, referring to the probe into real estate investments that spanned President Clinton's two terms.

Regional political figures hit directly by scandal have only begrudgingly left office. Leslie Johnson, wife of former Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson, stepped down from her County Council seat this year only after she pleaded guilty to collaborating in her husband's pay-to-play scheme.

Sheila Dixon, the former Baltimore mayor who was convicted of embezzling gift cards meant for the poor in 2009, did not step down until more than two months after her trial.

Jackson said the investigation into Gray could dog Gray in a run for re-election, but the mayor has three years to distance himself from the scandal.

"If there is a credible opponent to the mayor, this will be used against him in the next election [in terms of] implications on his management and hiring practices," Jackson said. "But time is on the side of the mayor right now."

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Liz Farmer

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner