On the heels of DC Mayor Vincent Gray’s recently exposed shadow campaign, three of the city’s 12 sitting concilmembers have now called for Gray to resign on Wednesday due to the scandals in his 2010 Democratic Primary campaign against incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty.
Councilmembers Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), David Catania (I-At Large) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) have said Gray should resign in the wake of federal prosecutors investigating Gray’s 2010 election campaign for illegal funding. Catania even went so far as to call the mayor a “joke,” adding that he is a “laugh line” and an “embarrassment.”
What is notable about Cheh’s Wednesday statement is that she endorsed Gray over incumbent Fenty in the September 2010 Democratic Primary. It was not a popular move among Cheh’s constituents in the upper Northwest Ward, which voted overwhelming for Fenty over Gray.
So what exactly happened to account for these accusations? Well, it is reported that Gray’s 2010 campaign misreported (or failed to report) $650,000 funneled from local contractor and (major) local political donor, Jeff Thompson. (Read more about Thompson in the Washington City Paper – in particular, how his home and office spaces were raided in suspicion of illegal activities related to the 2010 campaign.)
On Wednesday, Gray spoke about his allegations in a press conference where he confessed that he was not aware of the illegal reporting of contributions to his campaign. Gray said that he has no intentions of resigning.
Whether or not he was aware of it, Eugenia Clarke Harris, an aide in Gray’s campaign, pleaded guilty to charges that unreported money was used in campaign efforts to beat out incumbent, Adrian Fenty. Two other aides have pleaded the same charge. According to NBC Washington, Harris could receive 30 to 37 months in prison, and a fine between $6,000 and $60,000.
And even though Thompson’s contributions hardly made a ripple in the money pond of the election (Gray reported raising and spending about $2 million, whereas Fenty spent nearly $5 million), local politicians and supporters are outraged and feel betrayed by the candidate that campaigned on integrity.
Early this morning, ABC7/NewsChannel 8 reported that “Campaign workers for D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray tell The Associated Press that day laborers who worked at polling places on Gray’s behalf in 2010 were routinely paid $100 in cash — twice the legal limit.”
Borderstan Area Voted Overwhelmingly for Fenty
The Dupont, Logan and U Street areas of DC voted overwhelmingly for Fenty over Gray in the September 2010 primary. Fenty carried 9 out of 10 local precincts, winning six with more than 70% of the vote.
DC’s electorate is overwhelmingly Democrat, which means winning the Democratic Primary is almost always tantamount to election. But, in the November 2010 general election, Fenty got approximately 23% of the vote in a write-in campaign organized by Fenty supporter Joshua Lopez. Locally, Fenty got 30% in Ward 1 (which includes the U Street corridor and Adams Morgan) and 39% in Ward 2 (which included the Dupont and Logan areas). For example, Write-In (Fenty) received 43% of the vote in Precinct 16 at 15th and R Streets NW.
From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.
The Washington Post reported that the DC Council has approved new rules requiring its members to “treat other members with dignity and respect and refrain from using profane, indecent or abusive language” in public meetings. Fittingly, the vote went without debate.
Chairman Kwame R. Brown spearheaded the resolution, which was prompted by last week’s heated exchange between Councilmen David Catania and Marion Barry. The new rules allow Brown to remove decorum offenders from future meetings so long as it does not impede their ability to cast a vote.
Speaking of missing votes, Barry skipped Tuesday’s council meeting and did not vote on the proposal.
Although Catania supported the measure, he questioned why the Council, which is endlessly fraught with ethics scandals, would suddenly be concerned about profanity. “This body [is injecting] itself as Emily Post or Miss Manners while last year the majority of members said nothing when a colleague essentially admitted to stealing,” he said, according to The Post. Catania was frustrated by the media’s fixation on the ethics rules rather than on more pressing matters, such as his recent work providing services to at-risk youth.
But Catania’s verbal assault on Barry — including calling him a “despicable human being” — received too much coverage to be ignored, and has many calling for an apology.
“We’re going to take him into the back room and kick his tail,” the Rev. R. Joyce Scott said recently. “And we’re going to do that in public.” Scott did not specify the location of this public back room.
On Tuesday, Catania stood by his heated exchange with Barry, saying he will not apologize.
After a presentation by the District’s chief financial officer, Barry interjected a question about United Medical Center, a troubled hospital in his ward. Catania immediately unloaded a litany of insults on Barry.
According to reports, “F you, Marion,” Catania proposed, accusing the former mayor of being “full of s&%t” and “a despicable human being.” Catania’s reasoning for the attack was that Barry neglects the medical center, and that his “agenda is so transparent.”
Barry has since stated that he believes Catania’s verbal attacks were racially motivated. But Catania stood by his remarks. Observers note that the relationship between Barry and Catania has always been contentious.
So much for feeling the love on Valentine’s Day.
For newcomers to the Borderstan area, a short bit of history on both men’s political careers. Catania was first elected to the council in a 1997 special election as a Republican — but left the party and became an Independent a number of years ago due to his disagreement with the GOP’s positions on social and other issues. While Catania is one of four At-Large councilmembers, he does live in the greater Borderstan area. Barry, a Democrat, represents the 8th Ward.
Over the course of his career Barry has been a member of the City Council, then mayor for 12 years, then a member of Council for two years, then mayor for four more years before finally returning to his Ward 8 seat.