- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2012

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Thursday said the swirl of suspicion around an off-the-books effort during his 2010 campaign is “as frustrating for me as it is for others.”

Mr. Gray is facing heightened scrutiny as damning court evidence and revealing news reports tug at his justification for staying in office - ignorance of a scheme that unlawfully injected $650,000 into his campaign.

The mayor said he is not going to ignore his attorney’s advice to stay mum about the ongoing probe as pressure mounts for him to give a full accounting of what he knew about the secret effort and when he knew it.

Three city lawmakers on Wednesday asked the mayor to resign in light of evidence outlined in federal court that confirmed the existence of a “shadow campaign” financed by one of the city’s most influential contractors. But D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson implored his colleagues late Wednesday to allow the investigation to continue before demanding Mr. Gray’s resignation.

Mr. Gray said Thursday he reached out to various council members.

Mr. Gray said the comments by council member David A. Catania, at-large independent, did not surprise him, but added he was puzzled by council member Mary M. Cheh’s decision. Ms. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, supported Mr. Gray during the campaign, while Mr. Catania and Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Democrat, supported incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

“My question [for Ms. Cheh] would be, ‘Why did you do that?’ ” Mr. Gray said. “You’re a constitutional lawyer. People are innocent until they are proven guilty; they aren’t guilty until they’re proven innocent. So I really don’t understand it, but we’ll get a chance to talk at some stage.”

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and the District’s nonvoting member of Congress, said Mr. Gray is a longtime friend, but the conduct outlined in court papers is “deeply disturbing.”

“Mayor Gray has an obligation to clear this matter up quickly,” she said.

Troubles surrounding the mayor are resonating outside of city hall, although D.C. residents and commuters do not agree what should happen next.

“It would be better for him to resign,” said William Scott, 41, a consultant from Falls Church who works in the District. “Unfortunately, after being well-governed, D.C. is going back to the old days. It’s classic.”

Dahlicia Holmes, a 46-year-old executive assistant from Northeast, said the mayor’s critics should “wait and let the process go through.”

“He hasn’t been convicted yet. Wait until they have the hard facts,” she said. But, she added, “I still don’t trust any politicians.”

Mr. Gray kept a normal schedule on Thursday, even swearing in members of the newly created D.C. Board of Ethics. In comments to reporters, Mr. Gray tried to empathize with residents of the District.

“This is frustrating for me as well,” he told reporters as he left the John A. Wilson Building. “I think those of you who know me know I’m a very forthcoming person.”

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