It’s been another bad week for District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray, whose campaign continues to haunt him. In addition to an investigation into whether it essentially bribed former city employee Sulaimon Brown with money and a job in exchange for bashing then-Mayor Adrian Fenty, there are now questions about whether Gray’s campaign accepted cash contributions above the city’s $25 legal limit and the campaign may also have recorded donations from people who say they never gave money to Gray.
The Washington Post reports that the campaign improperly converted the excess cash donations into money orders that totaled more than $56,000 and reported them but not the cash. According to the publication, “the allegations suggest that officials in Gray’s campaign either didn’t know the law or disregarded it.” If they are found to have ignored the rules, they could be fined up to $10,000 and sentenced to five years in prison.
“If there were mistakes that were made and they were willful, obviously people should be held accountable,” Gray said.
The Post, which conducted a review of District records and individuals listed as donors, was told by one small business owner that when he went to Gray’s headquarters with $100 in cash, a campaign staffer gave him a money order in that amount to sign.
When a local restaurant owner was told he’d been listed as contributing a $40 money order he said, “I don’t think I’ve ever bought a money order.” It was discovered that the restaurant’s manager gave the campaign his business card when he donated the $40 but had no idea the cash he handed over had been converted into a money order.
“With all these stories, it’s become clear that there were two campaigns—the legitimate campaign, and then a rogue operation that was undermining what we were trying to do,” a senior aide told the Post. “It’s a shame because Vince ran for mayor to change the way the city government did business, and these idiots either didn’t get that memo, or just tore it up.”
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)