Guilty Pleas Raise Questions

Barrington M. Salmon | 5/30/2012, 10:46 a.m.

Hagler, 58, said he has known Gray in varying degrees for the past 20 years and has found him to be a man of integrity and someone with a real spiritual sense and "a depth of honesty."

"If something happened, it was outside of the mayor's purview," he explained. "I just don't see right now a whole lot of substance to what's going on. Maybe someone can explain to me the depth and seriousness [of what he's accused of]."

Local businessman and 2010 mayoral candidate Leo Alexander said if Gray acted as federal prosecutors suggest, the offenses are very serious.

"These guys are just stooges," he said of Gore and Brooks. "The real story is that Brooks said he was instructed to [pay Brown]. Only two people had the juice, the candidate [Gray] or Lorraine Green. She brought Brooks in and he would follow her lead. [The feds] threw 20 years at Gore and five years at Brooks to get to Gray."

Green served as Gray's campaign chair during his mayoral bid. She has strenuously denied any involvement.

"The question is, is Green going to be charged and will she flip on the mayor?" asked Alexander, 48. "What bothers me is that it was a measly $2,000. The white people in the suburbs are probably saying, 'These negroes', they can't rule themselves. It's sad because we have so many problems in the District and we're caught up with this garbage. We desperately need to get past this."

Lawrence Guyot, a veteran of the Civil Rights and student movements in the 1960s, said this is much ado about nothing.

"We are now in an extremely dangerous period in this city," he said. "It's no longer blacks against whites or blacks against Hispanics; it's pragmatists versus the purist, perfectionist core. This is detrimental to this city. The city has a choice: Either we will allow this government to be run or push for perfection at every level and only allow saints to run."

"Ordinary mortals need not apply."

Guyot, 72, said he did everything in his power to defeat Gray but is giving him the benefit of the doubt.

"We bear as much collective responsibility for the situation that has been created by our inactivity or done in our name," he said.

But David Bositis, a senior political analyst with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Northwest, has a different view. He said "the stories which have been dribbling out for a couple of years now since [Gray] was first elected" certainly appear to suggest that the mayor was buying support.

"Nope, there's no way for him to come back from this," said Bositis. "Gray was never seen as a strong mayor such as Marion Barry in his prime, or Adrian Fenty when he was elected. He wasn't seen as a really powerful political figure. His getting elected is attributable to a lot of luck. A lot of people see it that way. It was as much an anti-Fenty vote as a pro-Gray vote. "