Guilty Pleas Raise Questions
Barrington M. Salmon | , WI Staff Writer | 5/30/2012, 10:46 a.m.
Can Gray Survive?
Some political observers theorize that if Mayor Vincent Gray had studied the tea leaves, there would have been little reason to cover his odds by recruiting minor mayoral candidate Sulaimon M. Brown to harass and attempt to discredit then-Mayor Adrian Fenty.
Given that Fenty had alienated significant swathes of the District's black community and offended the city's old guard, teachers and union members, Gray appeared to be a shoo-in.
But now, Gray, 69, is embroiled in a scandal said to have been designed to enhance his chances of winning the 2010 Democratic primary. So far, two dominoes have fallen and federal investigators promise more arrests.
Last week was a bad week for the mayor. On Tuesday, May 22, Thomas Gore, the mayor's longtime friend and the campaign's assistant treasurer admitted in federal court to giving campaign funds to Brown and obstructing justice. And Howard L. Brooks, a Gray consultant, pled guilty two days later to lying to the FBI about payments he made to Brown.
Gray maintains that he was unaware of any illegal campaign activity and has so far not been connected to any crime. However, the noose is tightening.
Gray's ability to do his job has been severely hampered by the swirl of accusations and the consensus is that he will either be a one-term mayor or not survive his first term.
"I'm not at all surprised," said Ward 8 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Dionne Y. Brown of Gray's burgeoning legal problems. "He's [Gray] playing the same game the others have played. He claimed to be different - don't claim to be different if you're not. He needs to come clean because it's clear they [the feds] have evidence."
"[The mayor] owes the people an explanation. He revealed himself to be something he's not. He's in trouble not because of the original sin but because of the lies and hypocrisy."
Gray should be relieved of his duties for showing extremely poor judgment and then compounded that by lying, she said.
"I was there and saw Sulaimon Brown attack Fenty and say he didn't love his parents. I was aghast and people gasped when he said that. It never crossed my mind that he was paid. Voters need to cut him [Gray] loose because he demonstrated poor judgment and dishonesty - those character traits make him unsuitable to continue to serve."
Almost from the time Gray (D) took office, his administration had been under attack by Brown, who went on the offensive after being fired from a $110,000-a-year job as a special assistant in the Department of Health Care Finance.
When questioned about the appearance of cronyism, Gray told the media: "We believe he has the requisite skills to do the job. Just like anybody else, if that proves not to be the case, he won't be there."
As he's watched this pitiable saga play out, the Rev. Graylan Hagler said he has doubts as to the veracity of the allegations.
"There's obviously a lot of accusations and speculation going around," said the longtime civil and human rights activist, who is pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church in Northwest. "With what he's being accused of, there are a whole lot of gaps. I need to wait and see more because there is stuff that defies logic. A payoff to Brown when Gray was so far out in front? Does that make sense? It's like going to the store and buying something you don't need."