Inquiry into Gray campaign allegations heating up

Mayor denies link to consultant

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray said Wednesday that he has not been summoned to appear before a grand jury investigating allegations of corruption in his mayoral campaign. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray said Wednesday that he has not been summoned to appear before a grand jury investigating allegations of corruption in his mayoral campaign. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray said Wednesday that he has not been summoned to appear before a grand jury investigating allegations of corruption in his mayoral campaign, even as reports suggest prosecutors are accelerating their closely watched probe and that a Gray campaign consultant is playing a pivotal role.

Mr. Gray told reporters at the John A. Wilson Building that he has not been asked to provide fingerprints, and he distanced himself from Howard L. Brooks, a campaign consultant who reports suggest has gone from a target of the corruption probe to an informant willing to wear a wire.

“I haven’t spoken to Howard Brooks this year,” Mr. Gray said, curtailing any speculation that Mr. Brooks may have recorded a conversation with him.

The ongoing scandal has plagued Mr. Gray’s first term, raising questions about personnel hired by the administration and, more crucially, whether the accusations of promises and payoffs during the campaign are true and amount to criminal activity.

Mr. Brooks has been accused of providing money on behalf of the Gray campaign to a minor mayoral candidate, Sulaimon Brown, to bash incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty during the race.

"A lot of it really revolved around Howard Brooks, as far as I was concerned," said D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh. "He's like a mystery man." She looked into allegations of wrongdoing in the Vincent C. Gray campaign as part of her oversight duties. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)

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“A lot of it really revolved around Howard Brooks, as far as ... more >

D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh, who looked into the allegations as part of her government oversight duties and released a report in August substantiating at least some of the charges, never got the chance to question Mr. Brooks or his son, Peyton Brooks — who received a $110,000-per-year city job before resigning — because both of them asserted their Fifth Amendment privilege to stay silent.

“I’m not the sheriff, I’m a legislator,” Mrs. Cheh said, noting her oversight paved the way for legislative remedies and her committee referred evidence of wrongdoing to the appropriate authorities.

Mrs. Cheh said developments suggesting Mr. Brooks is at the center of the grand jury probe and that his son had been given immunity “seemed very interesting to me, because who’s giving up whom, and who has information? Because we were always frustrated on that point.

“A lot of it really revolved around Howard Brooks, as far as I was concerned,” she said. “He’s like a mystery man.”

Well-connected

Questions remain about how close Mr. Brooks is to Mr. Gray and his inner circle — and for how long.

Mr. Gray was quoted in the Washington Examiner in March as saying that he knew Mr. Brooks, “but I don’t know him well.”

Mr. Brooks is described by his brother-in-law as short in stature and prone to exaggeration.

Leonard Manning, a well-connected businessman who ran the D.C. Lottery for more than 25 years and whose sister is married to Mr. Brooks, said Mr. Brooks‘ closeness to Mr. Gray and his inner circle of advisers cannot be denied. He objected to efforts by the mayor to distance himself from Mr. Brooks.

Howard’s been very friendly with Mr. Gray since Mr. Gray first ran for city council,” Mr. Manning said.

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