Catania, Cheh, Bowser call for Mayor Gray to resign

Catania, Cheh, Bowser call for Mayor Gray to resign

Thursday – 7/12/2012, 12:31am ET

(WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)

WASHINGTON – By January of 2012, Mayor Vince Gray had knowledge of a shadow campaign during the 2010 election, reports The Washington Post.

The report comes just hours after three D.C. Councilmembers called for the mayor’s resignation after campaign consultant Jeanne Clarke Harris admitted to orchestrating a financial scam to get Gray elected.

Three people close to the investigation tell the Post that Harris confirmed that the meeting took place on Jan. 10.

It marks the first time there’s been evidence that Gray knew about the illegal activity before raids made in March on Jeffrey Thompson and associates.

According to the Post, Harris didn’t disclose details of the meeting but sources with knowledge said it concerned the 2010 campaign and investigations surrounding it.

Wednesday afternoon, before the Post reported Gray may have had knowledge of the campaign, D.C. Councilmembers David Catania, Muriel Bowser and Mary Cheh called for Gray to resign.

"Whether he knew or not about the shadow campaign, the revelations from yesterday are such that the mayor should resign," Catania says.

"There is enough evidence to verify that his campaign was involved in the largest single criminal conspiracy in the history of modern home rule when it comes to electoral politics."

Cheh weighed in after Catania.

"Today, I join Councilmember Catania in calling on Mayor Gray to resign. Whether or not he knew of the massive election fraud."

Bowser was the third councilmember to join the call for Gray’s resignation.

"It’s very clear the mayor is distracted. In the best interest of the city he should resign," she says.

Wednesday night, Mayor Gray’s spokesperson Pedro Ribeiro responded to the councilmembers’ calls saying, "This is the kind of irresponsible talk we’ve come to expect from Councilmember Catania."

And, "It’s disappointing however that a constitutional scholar of Cheh’s caliber would call for a resignation before investigation is complete," Ribeiro added.

On Tuesday, campaign aide Eugenia "Jeanne" Clarke Harris admitted in federal court that Gray was elected in 2010 with the aid of $650,000 in illicit funds from a city businessman.

Catania, who says is not planning to run for mayor or council chair, says it does not matter whether the outcome of the election would have been different.

"We have to guard very carefully the institution of democracy and the rules that we adopt for participation and involvement," Catania says. "This calls into question the legitimacy of his election and his legitimacy as mayor."

Gray spoke briefly about Harris’ guilty plea earlier on Wednesday at a press conference he held to criticize what he called Pepco’s "unacceptable" service restoration rate.

"This is not the campaign that we intended to run," he said. "I have said to many, many people that I got into this [mayoral race] for the right reasons.

"I think it’s unfair to say our administration [is corrupt.] I have distinguished between the campaign and the administration."

Catania says Gray’s comments sound as though "he seems to think he is the victim here."

Gray says he has no intentions of stepping down.

Learn more about the off-the-books deals here.

WTOP’s Andrew Mollenbeck contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.


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