As the District of Columbia's primary mayoral race heats up with 3 weeks to go before the April 1 election, the U.S. Attorney's office is heating up its potential corruption case against incumbent DC Mayor Vincent Gray. And the case is becoming far reaching beyond DC and Mayor Gray to the 2008 presidential primary election and beyond. One day before the DC State of the District Address given by Mayor Gray on March 11, businessman Jeffrey Thompson appeared in court to plead guilty to a conspiracy involving an alleged shadow election campaign with the mayor's 2010 election and 28 other prominent unnamed and named national and local politicians stemming from 2006 through 2012 including the 2008 presidential primary campaign.
Federal prosecutors allege the entire details in a 33-page document that DC Mayor Gray, although not specifically named in documents, met with Thompson about campaign financing and agreed "to keep support secret" that yielded over $650,000 for his campaign. Prosecutors assert shadow campaign funds for Mayor Gray's campaign purchased "yard signs", "door knockers", "catering" and other campaign expenses. Thompson faces as much as two years in prison to as little as six months in federal prison, if he cooperates. However, the judge said prosecutors have discretion to reduce any punishment for Jeffrey Thompson to home confinement.
So what does all this mean for Mayor Gray? It is highly likely that the U.S. Attorney's office intends to file charges or an indictment against Mayor Gray at some time in the near future with the assistance and cooperation primarily of Jeffrey Thompson. Gray vehemently denies any allegation of wrongdoing. And Mayor Gray may very well have the last hurrah in what may seem to some to be an overwhelming case against him.
Jeffrey Thompson received a more than generous plea deal from the government, perhaps too generous. He received the sweetheart deal in large part because any potential case against Mayor Gray needed the testimony and cooperation of Jeffrey Thompson. And while this may be jumping ahead, Mayor Gray is making the right move to go on the offensive against the government's case and brutal allegations against him.
The government's plea deal, while a very generous one for businessman Jeffrey Thompson, may become quite problematic to the government if a jury ever has to assess it in a case against Mayor Gray. Thompson admitted to corrupting national and local elections for many years by funneling illegal money into those campaigns, including allegedly Mayor Gray's and Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign allegedly without her knowledge. Through the actions of Jeffrey Thompson, many elections, national and local, were corrupted by his actions and outcomes may have been affected. And for all the wrong that Thompson admitted to doing for many years as a mastermind illegally orchestrating election financing, he could end up with spending as little as 6 months confined to his home. And as a former prosecutor, it suggests that the case against DC Mayor Gray hinges probably entirely on Thompson.
While no one knows how this case will unfold in the most likely months ahead, one thing is for sure. It's not over for Mayor Vincent Gray. And in his State of the District Address, Gray defiantly denounced the government's claims and asserted: Who do you believe? And that sums up the potential problem for any future government case against Mayor Vincent Gray -- a case of credibility of Jeffrey Thompson. With Thompson's deal, it is likely that many persons will view Thompson as someone who will say anything or "sing like a bird" to avoid a jail term. And so, Thompson's credibility may sink the government's ship if it sails to a trial.