A local businessman's guilty plea casts a new light on whether Gray accepted illegal donations in a shadow campaign.
Three weeks before the mayoral primary election in the nation's capital, the spotlight is on incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray – but not in a good way.
Throughout his tenure, Gray, who previously served on D.C.'s city council, has been dogged by allegations of an illegal shadow campaign. He has always denied any wrongdoing, but federal prosecutors are now saying he was well aware of illicit activities.
Local businessman Jeffrey Thompson pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiracy to violate D.C. and federal campaign laws by funneling more than $3 million in unreported donations to various campaigns, including Gray's 2010 mayoral bid and Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. Clinton also has denied any knowledge of efforts on her behalf and is cooperating with the investigation.
According to reports, in addition to accepting illegal donations, Gray asked Thompson to perform a personal favor by paying $40,000 for improvements to a friend's house.
“These are absolute lies,” Gray told News4, the local NBC affiliate.
But prosecutors maintain that Gray did know of the shadow campaign and said that Thompson's revelations are just the "tip of the iceberg" of what's to come.
“Today's guilty plea pulls back the curtain on years of widespread corruption," said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen. "With Mr. Thompson's cooperation, we have the opportunity to hold many wrongdoers accountable and to usher in a new era of honesty, integrity, and transparency in D.C. politics.”
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(Photo: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)