Alexander Faces Yet Another Challenger

Alexander Faces Yet Another Challenger
Written by James Wright, WI Staff Writer, Wednesday, 30 May 2012 01:53, Washington Informer

D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) already has a Republican, Ron Moten, to face in the Nov. 6 general election but there’s talk on the street that she may have another competitor.

Tongues are wagging in Ward 7, which is primarily located east of the Anacostia River, that Tom Brown, a former Democratic Party primary foe, will wage a write-in campaign against Alexander. "I have heard talk about Tom Brown doing that," said Phillip Hammond, a longtime political activist and a three-term advisory neighborhood commissioner for 7B04. "I have no proof that he is going to do that, though."

Democratic, Republican and the D.C. Statehood Green party candidates who competed in the Tue., April 3 primary cannot run as independents in the general election because of D.C. law. They can, however, run as write-in candidates and campaign as such, but must still abide by D.C. campaign finance laws if they raise money.

While Alexander, 50, easily won the Democratic Party primary on Tue., April 3, she won with only 41 percent of the vote in a field of four active challengers [Monica Johnson, who got 73 votes, dropped out of the race before the day of the primary]. Brown finished second with nearly 22 percent of the vote and had the support of The Washington Post, the D.C. Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee and the Metropolitan Washington AFL-CIO.

Kemry Hughes, Brown’s campaign manager for the April 3 primary, said that he’s heard rumblings about a possible draft committee for Brown to run in the fall election.

"I have heard that there have been some meetings with some folks in the ward about a Tom Brown write-in effort but I do not know anything else because I am not a part of it," said Hughes, 50.
Hammond, 70, did confirm one former challenger to Alexander who will not run in the November general election.

"The candidate that I supported, Kevin B. Chavous, has decided not to pursue a write-in candidacy," he said.

D.C. Chamber Defends Its Defense of Vince Gray

D.C. Chamber Defends Its Defense of Vince Gray
Posted by Alan Suderman on May. 30, 2012 at 1:26 pm, Washington City Paper

LL’s forthcoming column takes a look at how Mayor Vince Gray is putting legal considerations before political ones by keeping quiet on the recent guilty pleas of some of his top campaign aides. Gray’s lawyer says he’s ordered the mayor to keep quiet, which may make for sound legal advice but is hardly reassuring to Gray’s supporters.

So what is the Gray administration to do if it can’t say anything about the confirmed corruption near the core of the 2010 campaign? One option is to hope for (or even ask) your friends to come to your defense.

Abracadabra! Along comes a statement posted on the D.C. Chamber of Commerce’s website from President and CEO Barbara Lang saying that while "it is natural that people are questioning the business community’s continued support" for Gray, Hizzoner deserves that support because his "leadership has proven beneficial for the city and the business community in numerous ways."

Continues Lang:

While we are very concerned about recent actions by the U.S. Attorney, it is evident that despite the turbulence, Mayor Gray is staying focused on doing his job—improving the city and lives of District residents. It is of the utmost importance that our Mayor be able to remain focused on his duty, and Mayor Gray has proven his ability to do so.

Man, the Gray administration probably could not have said it better itself. So what prompted Lang to sing the mayor’s praises? For the record, she says no one in the Wilson Building’s executive suite asked her to write it. She says the motivation was to issue a blanket response to the numerous media calls she’s been getting about the Chamber’s relationship with Gray.

It’s also worth noting the personal connections at work here. Lang’s husband, Gerald Lang, was a fundraiser for the Gray campaign and a member of the campaign’s finance committee. Lang is also close with campaign chairwoman Lorraine Green, and even attended the D.C. Council hearing where Green denied knowing anything about illegal payments the Gray campaign gave to Sulaimon Brown.

Republican gets Gray’s nod for senior post

Republican gets Gray’s nod for senior post

Alan Blinder, Examiner Staff Writer, Wed, 2012-05-30 13:17

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray did something unusual last week: He appointed a Republican to one of the most powerful posts in a city stocked with Democrats.

Christopher Geldart, who is set to take over the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency if he wins the approval of lawmakers, is a Republican, a senior Wilson Building official said.

Geldart, a former Marine, worked in the administration of former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich, a Republican, and currently leads G2 Solutions, a consulting company he founded.

“Christopher Geldart has extensive experience in homeland security and emergency management,” Gray said in announcing Geldart’s appointment. “Keeping District residents and visitors safe in the event of any adverse event — natural or man-made — is one of our primary functions as government officials, and Mr. Geldart’s experience… suits him well to lead this crucial agency.”

Pedro Ribeiro, a Gray spokesman, said the mayor didn’t consider Geldart’s politics in making the appointment.

“The mayor doesn’t see this as a Republican or Democrat thing,” Ribeiro said. “He’s the most qualified person for the job.”

But Geldart’s appointment is still unusual since Gray has few opportunities to make appointments that cross party lines.

Democrats account for 75 percent of those on the voter rolls in the District, city records show, with Republicans making up only 6 percent.

D.C. law requires senior city employees to live within the District, giving Gray a shallow pool of Republican talent.

For the Geldart appointment, though, Gray searched beyond the District and persuaded his choice to move into the city to take the job.

Geldart will be replacing Millicent West, a holdover from the administration of Mayor Adrian Fenty who abruptly left the city’s government in January.

West ran the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp. at the time Ward 5 Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. used the non-profit to steal more than $353,000 in public money.

Although West has not been charged with any wrongdoing, she cited “distractions” in her resignation letter. The Gray administration later acknowledged that West had been forced out of her post.

Eatonville encounter figures big in determining Gray’s knowledge of payoff scheme

Posted at 02:47 PM ET, 05/29/2012

Eatonville encounter figures big in determining Gray’s knowledge of payoff scheme

By Mike DeBonis, Washington Post

The chic 14th Street NW eatery is where Gray may have become directly involved in illicit dealings. (SUSAN BIDDLE – FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Last week’s guilty pleas in the federal investigation of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s 2010 campaign have not directly implicated the mayor, but have prompted much speculation among chatterers (including yours truly) on whether or not they will actually touch the mayor directly.

And thus far, the speculation is, well, speculation. It’s stuff like: Vince Gray is a meticulous, detail-oriented guy — how could he have not known about the scheme? Or noting that Thomas Gore, de facto campaign treasurer and now admitted notebook-shredder, is a trusted friend of Gray’s who wouldn’t have done anything without his good buddy’s okay. And so forth.

But setting that speculation aside, charging documents have not named Gray as participating in the scheme to pay fringe candidate Sulaimon Brown in any way. They have, however, largely vindicated Brown’s version of events. And Brown’s version of events has Gray playing a personal role in the scheme during a meeting on Aug. 4, 2010, at the Eatonville restaurant.

The meeting would have happened late that night, after the candidates had participated in a rowdy Ward 4 candidates’ forum at a 16th Street NW church. (Post columnist Colby King gave a good account Saturday.) A straw poll of ward Democrats followed, one that Gray would win handily following a count that stretched into the wee hours of the next morning. But before the tally finished, most Gray partisans had already repaired to Eatonville where a “Young Professionals for Gray” fundraiser had morphed into a victory party.

Brown described what happened there in D.C. Council testimony:

I went to Eatonville and sat with Gray, who was talking on the phone at the time. He put up a finger, and I waited. Brooks showed up. Gray ended his phone call and said, “Let’s talk outside.” While we were outside, he thanked me for my help at the earlier Ward 4 debate, and said, “I think Howard” — referring to Howard Brooks — “has something for you.” Howard handed me an envelope that contained two money orders. There was one for $500 and one for [$150] along with some cash, and these are the two money orders here. It’s money order number 14085332525 and 140853325524.

In other words, Brown says he was paid off with Gray’s knowledge on the night of Aug. 4 or perhaps the early morning hours of Aug. 5.

Compare that to what Brooks admitted to in his Thursday guilty plea. The amounts line up — Brooks admitted to giving Brown two money orders together, worth $500 and $150 — but the dates are not a precise match: Prosecutors say Brooks bought the money orders “on or about” Aug. 4, the day of the Ward 4 event, and delivered them to Brown “on or before” Aug. 6.

Verifying the day of sale is a pretty straightforward affair: Virtually all money orders carry date and time stamps, and Brown kept copies of the money orders he was given. But the delivery date appears to be a matter of personal testimony, and if Brooks is saying he handed them to Brown on Aug. 6 — two days after the Ward 4 event — that would seem to contradict Brown’s Eatonville story.

But then again “on or before” means “on or before,” and keep in mind that little if anything Brown has claimed about the scheme has thus far been proven wrong.

Here’s what Gray said about the Eatonville allegation, back when he was still commenting on these things: “There’s no truth to it,” he said at a June 2011 news conference reported in the Washington Times. “I mean the logic of it doesn’t even hold — Have you been to Eatonville? … To step outside and have a conversation like this, whispering, it’s preposterous.”

By Mike DeBonis | 02:47 PM ET, 05/29/2012

Mayoral ambitions surfacing early in D.C.

An investigation that goes to the heart of our political system

An investigation that goes to the heart of our political system

By Washington Post Editorial Board, Published: May 23

THE ACCELERATING investigation into the 2010 election campaign of D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray has produced titillating revelations of bogus money orders, shredded records, a hidden wire and now, it appears, bald-faced lies to the FBI. But at the heart of the federal investigation is something precious and important: the integrity of the electoral process. What happened in 2010, as U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. made clear in a pull-no-punches statement, is that “the voters of the District of Columbia were deceived.”

The election of Mr. Gray (D), who campaigned against former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) on a theme of restoring integrity to government, was aided by secret payments, fraudulent filings, stealth deals and dirty tricks. Those responsible for these underhanded tactics — and Mr. Gray has not been charged — are rightly being held to account as federal prosecutors proceed with an investigation entering its second year. Sadly, though, there is no way to undo whatever influence their misdeeds had on the electoral process.

Mr. Machen, whose office brought criminal charges Wednesday against a second member of Mr. Gray’s campaign team, decried what he saw as “pretty shocking” and a “flagrant” abuse of the system. “We take seriously — very seriously,” he told us, “the imperative that people play by the rules, that elections be fair and transparent. When you cross the line, you tamper with our very system of government.”

That’s exactly what happened when operatives for Mr. Gray secretly financed the candidacy of minor mayoral hopeful Sulaimon Brown so that he could continue the fierce attacks on Mr. Fenty that helped undermine the Fenty campaign. It is impossible to say whether the dirty tricks changed the outcome of the primary. Mr. Fenty faced plenty of problems of his own making. But the Gray campaign would not have gone to such lengths unless its strategists believed the scheme would have an effect.

Federal prosecutors are reported to be examining more than Mr. Brown’s claims that he was paid off with campaign money and the promise of a city job. They also may be looking into allegations of a “shadow campaign” that operated outside of campaign finance rules.

Documents in the government’s case against campaign official Thomas W. Gore, who pleaded guilty this week for his role in funneling and then trying to hide funds to Mr. Brown, contains a reference to “excessive or unattributed cash contributions.” Howard Brooks, the campaign consultant named in a criminal information filed Wednesday that is a likely prelude to his guilty plea, is believed to be cooperating with federal prosecutors, as is Mr. Gore.

Did Mr. Gray know what was going on? If not, why not? The mayor, who previously has denied wrongdoing, has refused to comment on the charges involving Mr. Gore and Mr. Brooks. That’s understandable but not sustainable. Surely the public is owed an explanation, and an apology, for the events that now taint the 2010 election.

Kevin Wrege, Esq.

Founder & President

Pulse Issues & Advocacy LLC

Office: 202-625-1787

Mobile: 202-253-4929

4410 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150

Washington, DC 20016

Howard Brooks becomes second Vincent Gray campaign worker charged in federal probe

Howard Brooks becomes second Vincent Gray campaign worker charged in federal probe

By Del Quentin Wilber, Washington Post, Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2:45 PM

A second member of Vincent Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign was charged Wednesday in the wide-ranging federal investigation into the campaign’s alleged improprieties.

Howard Brooks, 64, a consultant to the mayor’s campaign, was accused of making a false statement to FBI agents. The charge came in a “criminal information,” a type of document that may be filed only with a defendant’s consent and signals a plea deal is near.

His attorney, Glenn F. Ivey, did not return phone messages or emails Wednesday morning.

Brooks was charged with making a false statement to FBI agents when he told them he never passed cash, money orders or other types of payments to a minor candidate in the race.

Brooks and another campaign worker, Thomas Gore, made such payments to keep minor candidate Sulaimon Brown in the race so the candidate could continue to assail incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty on the campaign trail, prosecutors have alleged. Brooks, who was a member of the campaign’s finance and treasury teams, was paid $44,000 for consulting work by the Gray campaign, records show.

Gray beat Fenty in the Democratic primary and then sailed to victory in general election.

“There is ongoing pending investigation, so there is nothing I can say at this stage because it is continuing to unfold,” Gray said Wednesday as he left the Wilson Building. “I’m focused on the city at this stage, and I’m going to do everything I possibly can. … I’m focused on the job I was elected to do and I’m working all day, every day.”

Gore, a long-time friend of Gray’s, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of violating D.C. election law and obstruction of justice.

Last year, Brown alleged that the payments were made by Lorraine A. Green, the campaign’s chairwoman, and by Brooks.

The contributions were made in the names of Brooks’s son, cousin-in-law and his son’s girlfriend. Both the son’s girlfriend and the cousin told The Post that they did not know Brown and did not make the contributions. Brooks’s son, Peyton, received immunity early in the investigation.

Thomas C. Green, an attorney for Lorraine Green, said earlier in the week, “My client has cooperated completely with the investigation, which I believe to be at an end so far as it involves her.”

That investigation sparked by Brown’s disclosure has since broadened into an inquiry of campaign finance and ties linking a prominent D.C. contractor to local political leaders.

In March, federal agents raided the home and offices of that contractor, Jeffrey Thompson, on the same day they searched the home and office of a public relations executive involved in the Gray election effort. Former Gray campaign workers and volunteers have also been questioned by federal authorities about an off-the-books “shadow campaign” that focused on getting out the vote.

Staff writer Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.