Council members call for Mayor Gray to resign

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Photo - An aide to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray was charged with conspiracy and false statements on Monday. Jeanne Clarke Harris is the third mayoral aide to face criminal charges related to Gray's 2010 campaign. (Examiner file photo)
An aide to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray was charged with conspiracy and false statements on Monday. Jeanne Clarke Harris is the third mayoral aide to face criminal charges related to Gray's 2010 campaign. (Examiner file photo)
Local,DC,Alan Blinder

At-large Councilman David Catania demanded Wednesday that D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray resign, making him the city's first elected official to press the mayor to quit after prosecutors revealed that Gray won the 2010 election with the help of an illegal shadow campaign. By day's end, other council members had joined the ranks of those calling for Gray to quit.

"Whether he knew or not about the shadow campaign, the time has come for the mayor to step down," Catania told The Washington Examiner. "We know that his campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to undermine the election laws of our city, calling into question the legitimacy of the election and his legitimacy as mayor."

Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh quickly issued a similar call.

And Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser, thought to be a potential candidate for mayor in the future, also said Gray needed to go.

"Whether or not he knew of the massive election fraud that was taking place in his name, he is responsible for it," Cheh said.

Earlier Wednesday, Gray, who said he has no plans to resign, said the shadow campaign was not part of his political strategy.

"This is not the campaign that we intended to run," Gray said. "I got into this for the right reasons."

Gray's remarks came one day after federal prosecutors detailed for the first time a $653,800 off-the-books campaign designed to boost Gray's electoral prospects.

But Gray said he didn't think his campaign, which incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty's campaign heavily outspent despite Gray's $2.8 million haul, needed an illicit cash infusion.

"I really thought, from my perspective, that we had raised a substantial sum," Gray said.

He also said that when he personally received contributions, he handed them off for processing.

"Any check or anything that I received was turned in to our folks to be properly recorded," Gray said.

The shadow campaign, court filings show, bankrolled staff members and supplies that included tens of thousands of shirts, signs and stickers.

Jeanne Clarke Harris, a longtime Gray friend, admitted Tuesday in federal court that she helped facilitate the underground effort through one of her companies using money from an unnamed co-conspirator.

Although Harris and federal authorities have not publicly named the co-conspirator, the business interests of Jeffrey Thompson, a prolific campaign donor who has been under vigorous scrutiny, match those described in court records.

Thompson has not been charged.

Harris, who pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges, admitted that although the co-conspirator funded the scheme, the shadow campaign was not merely his handiwork.

Instead, Harris acknowledged that members of Gray's formal apparatus "coordinated with" her to orchestrate the operation.

The depth of the scheme -- including any involvement Gray may have had in it -- remains under investigation, but Gray said he is satisfied with his personal ethics.

"I know who I am," he said. "I get up in the morning every day and look in the mirror, and I see someone I respect."

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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Alan Blinder

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