A few days before he officially begins his reelection bid, DC Mayor Vince Gray is trying to put as much distance as possible between himself and the corruption allegations still swirling around his 2010 campaign. In a lengthy interview last night with WUSA’s Bruce Johnson, Gray offered an apology for the ethics scandal that has resulted in guilty pleas for campaign violations from four former Gray aides. Last night, Gray repeated prior statements that he did not do anything wrong himself.
“Frankly, the things that happened in my campaign, you know, they were painful, they were embarrassing to me,” Gray said. “There were things that I wish hadn’t happened, and I’m very sorry that those things happened.”
Gray is scheduled to make his formal campaign kickoff Saturday with a speech at THEARC in Southeast DC. But even as he tries to get voters to focus on the job he has done for the past three years, the federal investigation into his 2010 campaign continues.
US Attorney Ron Machen has said that his office is still probing allegations that businessman and super-donor Jeffrey Thompson bankrolled a $653,000 “shadow campaign” on Gray’s behalf in 2010.
In November, Machen said that his office’s investigation is moving ahead even with an April 1 primary looming. “Our decision is based on the facts and whether a person violated criminal law,” he said.
Gray has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but last night’s interview was as forthcoming as he’s been since questions about his 2010 campaign started. It sounds like he’s trying to get all his apologies out ahead of Saturday’s event, though, in hopes of turning voters’ attention away from Machen’s investigation and toward his record.
“I didn’t do anything,” Gray said. “At the same time I want to apologize to people. I can’t apologize for what other people did, but it was the Vincent Gray campaign, I understand that.”
It probably won’t be the last time Gray has to address these questions.