WASHINGTON – The D.C. mayor said Friday that the money a contractor donated to his campaign that helped him win office in 2010 was not in exchange for anything.
While speaking on “NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt,” Mayor Vincent Gray said Jeffrey Thompson never asked him for return favors after donating money to help Gray beat incumbent Adrian Fenty.
Thompson is also believed to be the contributor of $650,000 in illicit funds donated to a side “shadow campaign” to elect Gray.
“There was no quid pro quo,” Gray says, adding Thompson “never asked me for anything.”
“When checks were given to me I turned them over to the campaign,” he says.
The mayor went on to say he wished he could have been in the campaign office more, and says he “did the best job I could of trying to run a campaign in a short period of time.” He says he is following the advice of his attorney in not divulging more information.
Three members of the D.C. Council, including Councilwoman Mary Cheh, D-Ward 3, have called for the mayor’s resignation. Gray said Friday he was “quite surprised” that Cheh, also a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, would not let the legal process play out before rendering a decision.
“I would have appreciated something other than just a phone call,” Gray says of how he found out about Cheh’s announcement.
Gray, however, was not surprised by opposition from the other two councilmembers. David Catania, I-At Large, is “a Republican who became an independent,” and Muriel Bowser, D-Ward 4, intends to run for mayor, he says.
“So I’m hardly surprised at that,” says Gray.
The interview came days after former aide Eugenia “Jeanne” Clarke Harris admitted the campaign used off-the-books payments to pay for consultants, supplies and other expenses. Former staffers also say the campaign paid day laborers twice the legal limit to work outside polling places on election day.
Gray defeated Fenty by 10 percentage points in the Democratic primary and cruised to victory in the general election in the mostly Democratic city. Gray ran on a pledge to restore integrity to the office, but he has been engulfed in scandal for nearly his entire term. The mayor has not been accused of any criminal activity and had no immediate comment about Harris’ plea.
Although the businessman who supplied the shadow campaign funds was not named in court on Wednesday, two people familiar with the investigation identified Thompson as the source of the funds. The individuals spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information.
Thompson has not been charged.
Gray refused to take reporters’ questions following the show and exited through the garage. Staffers said they wanted to ensure he adhered to his schedule.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP and The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)