District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray, whose bid for reelection is being rocked with scandal, acknowledged Tuesday that he has taken a political hit from allegations that he led a "shadow campaign," while the Democratic primary is just three weeks away.
On Monday, Jeffrey Thompson, one of Gray's 2010 campaign benefactors, who asked that Gray refer to him as "Uncle Earl," pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges, the Associated Press reports.
In court documents viewed by AP, prosecutors allege that Gray knew about the off-the-books campaign and Thompson's activities, but the mayor has not been charged with any crime.
According to AP, Thompson admitted to setting up a $668,000 slush fund to aid Gray's 2010 campaign. Gray would defeat then-Mayor Adrian Fenty by 10 percentage points. The existence of the slush fund, or "shadow campaign," as prosecutors called it, was not news, but Thompson then told prosecutors that Gray knew about the illegal funding and personally requested $425,000 to pay for get-out-the-vote efforts.
When the scandal broke, Gray initially came out claiming that Thompson's allegations were "all lies." Later he would clarify that he was only referring to the part that claimed he knew or participated in illegal activity.
Gray would tell AP that it was true that Thompson asked that he refer to him as "Uncle Earl," but that was to avoid being found out by then-Mayor Adrian Fenty, whom Thompson had supported for mayor and was not supporting for reelection.
"I said, 'If that's what you want, fine,' " Gray told AP, adding that he did not think it was an unusual request. "He was fearful of retribution from the Fenty administration. They had already been after him."
On Tuesday, the mayor used his State of the District speech to address the allegations head on.
"I didn't break the law," the mayor told a crowd of a few hundred supporters in a middle school auditorium, AP reports.
Gray pleaded with residents to look at his "clean and unblemished" record of public service, saying that it didn't make sense that he would turn on that record.
"So I ask you, who do you believe?" the mayor asked.
"A greedy man attempting to save himself, or me, a public servant, who has dedicated my entire career and my entire life to giving back to our communities in the District of Columbia?"
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Read more at the Associated Press.