- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 4, 2014

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s former campaign driver was charged with a felony related to the illegal funding of the mayor’s 2010 campaign — making him the sixth close Gray associate to be charged in a federal campaign-finance probe.

Charging documents filed Thursday in D.C. Superior Court against the driver, Mark Long, also allege that Mr. Gray met with an opponent in the 2010 race to try to persuade the candidate to drop out of the race in exchange for something of value.

Mr. Long is due in court Friday on the lone conspiracy charge.

Prosecutors say Mr. Long was paid to work as Mr. Gray’s driver throughout the campaign with money that came from businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson and was funneled through companies owned by Eugenia Clarke Harris — both of whom have pleaded guilty to charges that are part of a widespread campaign-finance conspiracy.

But as Mr. Gray fought to unseat Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in 2010, Mr. Long also helped facilitate a meeting with another mayoral candidate in the hopes of getting the candidate to drop out of the race and to endorse Mr. Gray. Prosecutors don’t name Mr. Gray in Mr. Long’s charging documents, but the government lawyers have previously named the mayor in other, related court cases.

The other mayoral candidate is also not named, but the tale in court papers corresponds to a report last year in The Washington Post in which Democratic candidate Leo Alexander told the newspaper that Mr. Gray made such a request of him.

Prosecutors say Mr. Long drove Mr. Gray to meet with the other candidate in Maryland, and that, through his conversations with the mayor, he understood that the other candidate wanted a job with Mr. Gray’s administration if he won the election. In August 2010, Mr. Gray’s campaign paid Harris’ company $20,000 for “consulting services” that prosecutors say were actually meant to be a payment to the mayoral candidate in exchange for dropping out of the race. However, the candidate did not drop out of the race and the money was refunded to the campaign.

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