WASHINGTON — When D.C. businessman Jeffrey Thompson pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges Monday and implicated Mayor Vincent Gray in a “shadow campaign” during his 2010 bid for the office, it sent shock waves through District politics, and one observer and local columnist says, “It certainly does not look great for the mayor.”
Will Sommer, the Loose Lips columnist for the Washington City Paper, told WTOP on Monday that Mayor Gray has consistently denied seeking, or knowing anything about, illegal campaign contributions. He continued to deny any wrong-doing on Monday night.
Thompson’s plea, however, “directly contradicts that,” Sommer says.
“It has the mayor hand-delivering a budget to Jeff Thompson of $425,000 worth of illegal requests. So if that’s true, it’s certainly hard to see the mayor getting out of this,” he says.
Thompson’s activities didn’t end with Gray, Sommer says.
“He funded multiple shadow campaigns for D.C. Council members,” Sommer says — particularly mayoral candidate Vincent Orange, although Sommer points out that Thompson listed Orange as a candidate who may not have known about the shadow campaigns.
“Just stretching back to 2006, these shadow campaigns have played a role in almost every election we’ve had,” he says.
And the impact isn’t just local.
“This is an in-the-weeds situation,” Sommer says, although Thompson also spent nearly $1 million helping Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, “so there’s certainly a national angle to this story.”