Why Won’t Vincent Gray Speak Up About His 2010 Campaign?

Three of his aides have admitted to federal crimes—but the mayor himself is staying silent.

By: Harry Jaffe

Mayor Vincent Gray has declined to utter a word that might explain his knowledge of corruption within his 2010 mayoral campaign.

Don’t expect him to enlighten us any time soon.

Three of Gray’s top campaign aides have admitted to federal crimes. Two have pleaded guilty to paying off a candidate to harass rival Adrian Fenty; another has admitted to helping launder $653,800 in an illegal “shadow campaign.”

US Attorney Ronald Machen has labeled the campaign “sinister” and “corrupted.”

Amid calls for him to resign, the mayor has remained silent. Why?

Quite simply, anything Gray says might be used against him. His lawyer, Robert S. Bennett, has instructed him to keep his mouth shut. If the mayor offers his version of events and they don’t match the accounts that others have given to federal investigators, Gray opens himself up to charges of giving false statements.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said Thursday, “Mayor Gray has an obligation to clear this matter up quickly.”

He won’t. He has an obligation to save his skin by steering clear of self-incrimination.

Council member Jim Graham has said he will join three other members who have called for Gray to resign, if the mayor doesn’t speak about his role in the 2010 campaign.

He won’t, which will force Graham to follow through and call for Gray to resign.

My guess is that Gray will not resign of his own accord—for the good of the city. The only way Gray gives up his office is if federal prosecutors present him with an indictment and a choice: face full prosecution, a trial, and jail time, or go quietly into public life, as did council chair Kwame Brown and council member Harry Thomas Jr., both of whom recently pleaded guilty to breaking federal law.

Until Machen has the goods on Gray, in the form of incontrovertible evidence of violating federal laws, Vince Gray stays silent and remains in office.

Prepare for a siege.