- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Federal prosecutors dealt a major blow to D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Tuesday, validating high-profile claims by a minor 2010 candidate that Mr. Gray’s campaign paid him to bash incumbent Mayor Adrian M. Fenty during the race.

The prosecution’s case against Thomas W. Gore, a senior aide to Mr. Gray’s 2010 campaign, outlined several payments to Sulaimon Brown, who also claimed he was promised a city job he received in the Gray administration before his firing for poor performance and behavior.

Gore, 56, admitted in federal court that he helped another campaign staffer make donations totaling $660 to Mr. Brown’s campaign - using the names of people who did not make the donations - before destroying a notebook that outlined the payments. Gore said he abetted the process by providing campaign funds.

He pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges of making fraudulent campaign donations and a felony count of obstruction of justice.

“In 2010, the voters of the District of Columbia were deceived,” said U.S. Attorney for the District Ronald C. Machen Jr. “Envelopes stuffed with fraudulent money orders prevented the public from knowing that one mayoral campaign was secretly financing the campaign of an opposing candidate.”

Gore is the first person to be charged in a long-running federal probe of Mr. Gray’s campaign activities, an investigation that overshadowed the mayor’s first year in office. The fervor around the probe subsided for a time before a raid on a prolific political donor’s home and offices in March reignited interest in how his 2010 campaign raised money and conducted its affairs.

Gore served as the Gray campaign’s assistant treasurer, yet he has been described as the go-to contact for financial matters during the race. He also worked on Mr. Gray’s 2004 run for Ward 7 member of the D.C. Council and 2006 run for council chairman.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly told Gore he faced up to 20 years in prison for the felony, but that guidelines call for a sentence of 12 to 18 months based on his lack of a criminal record and potential to cooperate with investigators.

In court, Gore was forced to confirm the names of candidates listed in charging papers, offering the first formal indication that Mr. Brown - whose credibility has been questioned because of his erratic behavior - did not fabricate the notion he was paid by at least one member of Gray’s campaign team.

“Candidate A was the campaign for Vincent Gray. Candidate B was Sulaimon Brown,” Gore said.

Mr. Gray is scheduled to return Tuesday evening from an international shopping center convention in Las Vegas. He has referred questions to his attorney, who declined to comment when Gore’s charges came to light Monday.

Charging documents released Tuesday do not indicate Mr. Gray was aware of any payments to Mr. Brown.

The mayor has denied the allegations against him and repeatedly noted that he called for an investigation into the matter.

Mr. Brown has asserted that Mr. Gray was aware of the furtive payments. He pointed to phone records between him and the mayor and testified before the council that Mr. Gray brought him to an associate outside the Eatonville restaurant in Northwest so he could obtain an envelope full of money.

Mr. Brown has claimed that associate, Howard Brooks, made most of the payments. Although he is not named in charging papers, Mr. Brooks seems to fit with descriptions of “Person A,” who is described in court papers as a campaign staffer who recruited family members to put their names on money orders that were passed to Mr. Brown.

Story Continues →