Gray Digs In for the Long Haul

Barrington M. Salmon | 7/18/2012, 4:34 p.m.

Elsewhere, she said: "We can't go on like this. This drip, drip of scandal. It's sapping the life of the city."

Interim Council Chairman Phil Mendelson termed the calls for Gray's resignation "premature" and so far, no one else on the council has joined in seeking Gray's removal.

The Rev. Willie Wilson, senior pastor of Union Temple in Southeast since 1973, said he was troubled by what he characterized as "an unfair investigation."

"It's a rush to judgment," he said during an interview Monday evening. "It's divisive because there are people who feel this is unfair. No charge has been leveled against him. In any campaign, you might find quirks in the campaign where every 't' wasn't crossed or every 'i' dotted. The mayor, Vernon Hawkins and Jeff Thompson have devoted their entire lives to the downtrodden."

"You'd think these men had robbed five banks and killed 10 people. The government can better spend taxpayers' money in other ways. I hope he [Gray] will stand fast to his position until something is uncovered."

Hawkins played a role in the Gray campaign and there are suggestions from the U.S. Attorney's Office that he was the person who masterminded the shadow campaign. Rumors are swirling that he might be the next Gray associate caught up in the Fed's net.

As the scandal mushrooms, local political consultant and commentator Chuck Thies said he believes the trio of council members was moved as much by political calculation as outrage over the scandal when they called for Gray's resignation.

"I'm surprised at the council members," said Thies, who has lived in the Washington metropolitan area for 20 years. "It isn't justifiable. What I see going on here is Cheh trying to pander to the many people who're upset with her for supporting Gray. But that won't work. And Bowser wants to be mayor sooner than later. I'm surprised at Catania, though, because he's usually more thoughtful."

"The mayor has not been convicted of a crime, is not a 'person of interest' or a suspect."

What seems to have been lost in the rush to judgment, Thies said, is that there is no smoking gun which links Gray directly to any of the campaign shenanigans.

"When you're embroiled in or associated with criminal activity, until you're found guilty, the presumption is innocence. I haven't heard people saying Vince Gray should resign. There are no rallies and there are no people carrying pitchforks demanding that he resign. They're just not there."

"People are fatigued by a series of scandals. I don't see a public outcry. They are disappointed."

Disappointment is the overwhelming emotion Ward 6 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner [ANC] Francis Campbell said he feels about the scandal that has engulfed Gray.

Campbell, 61, said he had hoped that Gray, who won the mayor's office in November 2010, would bring experience, savvy and "a whole new attitude" to the job. But now he said, given all that has happened, those hopes have not materialized.

"I have to admit that I'm extremely disappointed. I like Gray and had high hopes of him and I expected better," he said during an interview Monday afternoon. "With him and Kwame Brown, I thought that was the best combination of the viewpoints and consideration of seniors but still dealing with the needs of younger residents and gentrifiers."