The ghosts of campaign past haunt Washingtons mayor
Things are going badly for government in Washington, D.C., and we’re not talking about the feds. With Congress in recess, the spotlight is on City Hall.
Mayor Vincent Gray’s successful 2010 election bid is the focus of an ongoing federal investigation of a $650,000 “shadow campaign” that presumably helped him win over incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.
So far, three Gray campaign aides have pleaded guilty to charges related to the funding of a minor candidate, Sulaimon Brown, who kept up a drumbeat of criticism against then-Mayor Fenty on the campaign trail.
Mr. Brown, incidentally, was hired by the city following the election for a $110,000-a-year job. He was later fired following press reports questioning the hiring.
So far, Mayor Gray doesn’t face charges related to the “shadow campaign” and has rejected suggestions that he resign, most lately from three city councilmen. A recent Washington Post poll showed that a majority of voters believe he should step down.
Instead, Mr. Gray’s allies are looking at damage control, most recently through discussions with his chief of staff and Judy Smith, who bills herself as “America’s No. 1 Crisis Management Expert.”
It’s a title she may well deserve as the advisor to presidential paramour Monica Lewinsky, dog-killing quarterback Michael Vick, tax-cheat actor Wesley Snipes and sex-scandalized former Sen. Larry Craig during their well-publicized woes.
Thus, she might be just the person that Mayor Gray should turn to, though so far he has attempted to distance himself from any association.
Meanwhile, two other city councilmen are facing problems of their own over their use of public funds unrelated to the election scandal.
“The city’s in serious trouble,” is how City Councilman Marion Barry described it. “We are the laughingstock of the nation.”
That’s something Mr. Barry should understand from personal experience. During his checkered career as mayor, he was videotaped by federal officials smoking crack in a motel room in 1990. He subsequently went to prison — and later back to City Hall, first as mayor, then as a councilman.
When Mr. Barry starts leveling moral judgments about your administration, you know you’re in trouble.
Particularly when they ring true.