D.C. Corruption: Calls Mount for Mayor Vincent Gray to Resign

D.C. Mayor Gray's campaign is under investigation, as is half the city council.

July 12, 2012, 2:15 PM

July 12, 2012 -- intro: From drug possession to tax fraud, city officials in Washington, D.C., are notorious for being less than law abiding.

This week that cloud of corruption descended on Mayor Vincent Gray after a woman who worked closely with his campaign pled guilty to funneling money from a wealthy D.C. businessman into Gray's 2010 mayoral campaign. While Gray has not been charged with a crime, the calls for him to resign over the campaign snafu are mounting.

Gray is running a city notorious for shady politicians. In the past four years half of D.C.'s top government officials have been under investigation by either federal authorities or the D.C. board of elections. Two have resigned, two have served prison time and two have been closely connected to staff members who pled guilty to felonies.

While Gray has insisted he does not "think there's widespread corruption here," here's a look at some of the politicians who are running the nation's capital city and racking up federal charges in the process.

quicklist: 2title: Vincent Graytext: Job Description: Mayor

What happened: Three of Gray's top campaign associates have pled guilty to felonies over illegal campaign finance practices in Gray's 2010 mayoral campaign.

On Tuesday Jeanne Clarke Harris, a public relations consultant who worked with Gray's campaign, pled guilty to running a "shadow campaign" for Gray by funneling $650,000 from wealthy D.C. businessman Jeffrey Thompson into Gray's campaign. None of the money was reported on the mayor's campaign finance reports.

Gray's campaign treasurer Thomas Gore pled guilty to two felonies and three misdemeanor charges in May. Gore helped orchestrate a scheme to pay Gray's mayoral race opponent Sulaimon Brown thousands of dollars in falsified money orders so he would stay in the race and continue attacking Gray's opponent, then-incumbent mayor Adrian Fenty, and thereby help Gray's election prospects.

Gray's campaign consultant Howard Brooks also pled guilty to helping with the scheme and then lying to federal prosecutors about it.

"This is not the campaign that we intended to run," Gray said at a press conference Wednesday. But he said he has has "no plans" to resign.

Consequence: Three city councilmembers have called for Gray to resign. Gore faces 12 to 18 months in prison and a possible fine of $3,000 to $30,000. Brooks faces a maximum of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The Associated Press Contributed to this report.


quicklist: 1title: Kwame Browntext: Job Description: D.C. Council Chairman

Charges: a felony for bank fraud and a misdemeanor for "unlawful cash campaign expenditure"

What happened: Brown pled guilty on Friday to overstating his income by tens of thousands of dollars on a bank loan application to qualify for a home equity loan to buy a boat, according to charges filed Wednesday with D.C.'s district court.

Kwame was also charged with a misdemeanor on Thursday for allegedly failing to report $170,000 in campaign contributions that were held in a "side account" during his 2008 campaign.

Consequence: resigned his council seat on Wednesday

Past Controversies: Brown's tenure as the second-highest ranking District official, behind the mayor, got a rocky start when the chairman ordered district officials to get him a "fully loaded" all-black Lincoln Navigator SUV to drive to during his tenure.

When the SUV arrived with a gray interior, Brown demanded another vehicle with a black interior. D.C. taxpayers footed the $1,600 bill to rush a new Navigator to the District in time for Kwame's inauguration and are still paying nearly $2,000 per month to lease the SUV, the Washington City Paper reports.

The District of Colombia is facing a $600 million budget shortfall for 2012.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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quicklist: 3title: Marion Barry text:Job Description: Mayor for Life, Councilmember for Ward 8

Charges: misdemeanors for cocaine possession, stalking and tax fraud

What happened: Marion Barry, who served as D.C. mayor for more than 20 years, pled guilty to cocaine possession after he was caught on video smoking crack cocaine in a Washington hotel room. Barry served six months in federal prison and was re-elected to another term as mayor after his release.

D.C.'s "Mayor for Life" has also been found guilty of a misdemeanor tax charge for failing to pay the majority of his income taxes during the five years after he left office in 1999. Authorities dropped misdemeanor charges for allegedly stalking his ex-girlfriend and having traces of marijuana and cocaine in his car.

Consequence: Served 6 months in prison for the cocaine charge

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quicklist: 4title: Harry Thomastext: Job Description:Councilmember for Ward 5

Charges: federal theft and filing false tax returns, both felonies

What happened: In January, Thomas pled guilty to stealing more than $350,000 in taxpayer money assigned to youth baseball and arts programs and diverting it instead to buy a $58,000 Audi Quattro Premium SUV, a $23,245 Victory motorcycle, expensive clothing, restaurant meals and luxury vacations, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Thomas was the first sitting D.C. city councilmember to be charged with a felony

Consequences: Thomas resigned his city council seat in January and was sentenced to 38 months in prison.

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quicklist: 5title: Michael Browntext: Job Description: At-large councilmember

What happened: Michael Brown seems to have a problem paying his taxes. Last year the councilmember owed more than $14,000 in unpaid property taxes and nearly as much in unpaid income taxes. The IRS filed a lien on his house in 2010 seeking more than $50,000 in income taxes that Brown failed to pay from 2004 through 2008, the Washington Times reports.

Brown is a leading advocate on the council for raising taxes on D.C. residents who earn more than $200,000.

Consequences: Brown is on a repayment plan for his back taxes.

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quicklist: 6title: Jim Graham text: Job Description: Councilmember for Ward 1

Charges: Chief of Staff was charged with two felonies for bribery

What happened: While Graham has not been charged with any wrongdoing, his chief of staff Ted Loza was sentenced eight months in prison for accepting a $1,500 bribe from a taxi cab industry representative while the council was debating taxi reform in 2008.

Consequences: Loza pled guilty to two counts of accepting illegal bribes and one count of making false statements.

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