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.

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