Vincent Gray’s scandals promise to tangle D.C. mayoral campaign

Critics say his only unfinished business is investigation

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The details of the scandal come most often in the course of damaging court appearances by former campaign operatives admitting to crimes exposed in the probe. They also have been accompanied by tough talk from the man in charge of the investigation.

After one aide pleaded guilty in May 2012, Mr. Machen said the voters of the District were “deceived.” After another plea deal was announced two months later, he said the mayor’s race was “compromised by backroom deals, secret payments and a flood of unreported cash.”

But with few new publicly known developments in the investigation and the April 1 primary looming, Mr. Machen says he understands the public outcry for a resolution.

“I can tell you this: We know the situation. We know there’s a sense of urgency,” he said at a community forum days before the mayor announced his candidacy.

The city’s top prosecutor also appears to be tempering expectations, adding that the election can’t affect the timeline of the investigation.

“When we can move, we try to take that into account because we know it’s important for the voters to have some sense of closure and to know what’s going on. We’re sensitive to that. But at the same time, there’s nothing we can do,” he said.

Mr. Machen has cited obstacles to the wide-ranging investigation. Most recently, he has sparred with D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan, who has claimed attorney-client privilege and declined to turn over documents and emails that the prosecutor says are related to the investigation.

Mr. Nathan has dismissed the charge, saying he already has handed over 20,000 documents, responded to dozens of inquiries and granted numerous witness interviews.

Another potential obstacle: Mr. Thompson is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court the seizure of millions of pages of documents on computer files.

Running on a record

Mr. Gray revisited his five-year economic plan Tuesday at the City Market at O Street in the Shaw neighborhood of Northwest — the site where he introduced the plan a year ago. Dozens of supporters, government employees and reporters assembled on the barren ninth floor of a building that didn’t exist when the plan was announced.

“I think we’ve made an enormous amount of progress since we started one year ago,” Mr. Gray said. “We are working to redefine the District of Columbia.”

Among the accomplishments, Mr. Gray said, more than 17,000 jobs will be created out of initiatives completed in the first year, including those at two Wal-Mart stores set to open Wednesday. The goal is to create 100,000 more jobs in the city by 2017.

The mayor has sought to make the District an East Coast technology hub and touted a commitment by Microsoft to build an innovation center. He also hailed the success of the city’s technology incubator — the site of 175 startups.

The District holds more than $1.5 billion in reserve, replenishing a fund that diminished under the Fenty administration. Mr. Gray said he expects the amount to grow when officials complete another audit early next year.

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