WASHINGTON -- District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray faced additional calls to resign, a day after three councilmembers said that he should step aside because of the ongoing federal investigation into his 2010 campaign.
On Tuesday, a public relations consultant, Eugenia Clarke Harris, pleaded guilty to charges that she helped illegally steer more than $650,000 to what the U.S. attorney has described as a "shadow campaign" to boost Gray's chances to unseat then-Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) in the primary election.
On Wednesday, three councilmembers, Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), David Catania (I-At-Large) and Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) called on the mayor to resign.
"Whether Vince knew or not, the legitimacy of the election was called into question by all this illegal money," Catania said.
D.C. Republican Committee Chairman Bob Kabel issued a statement Thursday morning:
"It’s time for the Mayor to do what’s best for the District and resign. The only way forward is with new leadership for our city. While it is still unclear if the Mayor knew about the shadow campaign during his election, the fact is, the Mayor did not disclose to the public what he did know shortly after the election. This is truly unacceptable."
D.C. Libertarian Party Chairman Tim Vickey released a statement, too:
“What has become apparent is that Vincent Gray’s campaign for Mayor was little more than an organized criminal enterprise masquerading as a political campaign. Nothing about his campaign or his election is legitimate.
Phil Mendelson (D), the interim D.C. Council chairman, has urged his colleagues to be cautious, noting that "the call for the mayor's resignation creates instability at a time when we need stability," he said in a statement, according to the Examiner.
Mendelson, picked to lead the D.C. Council following last month's resignation of Chairman Kwame Brown (D) amid federal bank fraud charges, would be in line to become mayor should he leave office.
Gray told reporters Wednesday during a press conference that he had no plans of resigning. While he did not go into much detail about the allegations of a shadow campaign, the mayor said: "This is not the campaign that we intended to run."
On Thursday, Gray reiterated his intention to stay in office. According to WJLA-TV/ABC7:
However, Gray says he was caught off-guard by councilwoman Mary Cheh’s request that he resign, saying Cheh should know “innocent until proven guilty,” according to ABC 7 reporter Mark Segraves.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Gray he knew the existence of campaign violations in January, when Harris said she met with the mayor in his fifth floor private suite in the John A. Wilson Building.
The disclosure of the meeting marks the first indication that Gray knew of undocumented funds before the federal raids in March at the homes and offices of Harris and business associate Jeffrey E. Thompson, who is believed to have funneled more than $650,000 in unreported funds to a “shadow campaign.”
The Associated Press reported on new revelations about the how some Gray campaign workers were paid:
While paying people to work the polls is a widespread and legal practice in the [District of Columbia], such workers are required to be paid by check if they receive more than $50 under a law intended to ensure transparency. But three people who worked on the Gray campaign told the AP they paid day laborers up to $100 in cash to hold signs and distribute literature outside polling places.
Two consultants from Gray's 2010 campaign, Mo Elleithee and Steve McMahon, wrote an op/ed in The Washington Post, saying they feel betrayed by the shadow campaign:
As has become abundantly clear over the past year, there were two parallel campaigns going on — a legitimate campaign focused on delivering Gray’s hopeful message of change, and an illegitimate campaign that violated not only campaign laws but also the trust of everyone in the District.
Make no mistake: This shadow campaign was unethical and illegal and was conducted without the knowledge of most of the campaign’s senior leadership. Those inside and outside the campaign who were involved should be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They compromised countless campaign staff members and volunteers by involving them unwittingly in their illegal activities. They deserve the strongest condemnation by all city leaders — regardless of previous relationships — and we applaud the U.S. attorney for making an example of them and their corruption.
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