WASHINGTON -- Federal scrutiny of the 2010 District of Columbia mayoral campaign of Vincent Gray (D) appears to be intensifying. While the U.S. attorney's office has been tight-lipped on its probe of allegations of campaign-related corruption for months, this weekend, The Washington Post pieced together new revelations on the course of the investigation, which started after mayoral candidate Suliamon Brown accused members of Gray's campaign staff of paying him to hammer then-Mayor Adrian Fenty on the campaign trail, promising him a job in Gray's administration.
From the Post:
Through their questioning of campaign staff members and their interest in campaign documents, investigators appear to be focusing on consultant Howard L. Brooks and possibly others in the Gray campaign, said two sources with knowledge of the probe.
Authorities are trying to determine whether Brooks, a close friend of Gray campaign Chairwoman Lorraine A. Green’s, passed Brown the alleged payments. Brooks and Green have denied any wrongdoing.
Brown was hired for a $110,000-a-year special assistant job in Department of Health Care Finance before being booted from the administration in February after the appointment faced intense scrutiny from the media, government watchdog groups and members of the D.C. Council. Gray has denied promising Brown a job in his administration, something that the controversial candidate alleges.
Among other revelations in the Post's report:
- Federal investigators have secured fingerprints from Brown and Brooks, which the Post says "could help identify anyone who might have handled documents, money orders or envelopes with cash that Brown claims the Gray campaign gave him or who might have handled apparently fraudulent money-order donations to the mayor’s campaign."
- Lorraine Green, a close Gray friend who has held various personnel management positions in the D.C. government, the Clinton administration and at Amtrak, has not submitted fingerprints, according to her attorney, who would not elaborate if she was asked to submit fingerprints. Green has admitted to meeting Brown in Union Station, but denies giving him payments.
- In August, a grand jury heard testimony from Howard Brooks' son Peyton and Ken Cummins, a private investigator who conducted background checks for the Gray administration.
Since he took office in January, Gray has struggled to move beyond the allegations of corruption and a number of missteps that resulted in a reshuffling of his leadership team and inquiries by the D.C. Council into the administration's hiring practices.
Late last week, mayor's press shop was quick to tout the mayor's in-depth interview with the Washington Business Journal published Friday that focused on economic development in the city. It also addressed how the business community views Gray's stewardship of the D.C. government. The takeaway? They're ignoring the drumbeat of scandal.
"As a business leader and tech community guy, I don't pay attention to what politicians are doing — scandal or otherwise — and I believe my peers are largely in the same boat with me on that," Peter Corbett, CEO of D.C.'s iStrategyLabs, told the Business Journal.
Still, the longer Gray's scandal remain unresolved -- in addition to the handful of scandals facing members of the D.C. Council -- the more difficult it will be for the D.C. government's political leadership.
"I'm just hoping for the sake of everyone involved, they [resolve] this as quickly as possible," D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) told the Examiner.