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Mayor Vincent Gray knew about businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson’s shadow campaign to help fund his 2010 campaign, and personally asked for funds, federal prosecutors alleged on Monday.
Thompson allegedly backed Gray’s campaign based on the expectation that his election would “improve the business climate,” and felt he couldn’t due so publicly because opposing then-Mayor Adrian Fenty would worsen his business prospects.
According to prosecutors, Thompson’s first contribution to Gray’s campaign was $15,000 in May 2010 to purchase campaign materials. The two met on June 7, 2010, to discuss, among other things, a request that Thompson expedite his contributions so that Gray could present a big haul for the first fundraising deadline.
During the meeting, Thompson requested Gray refer to him as “Uncle Earl” to keep his identity a secret. Gray allegedly agreed, and later thanked his “uncle” for another massive chunk of change.
Prosecutors say Thompson’s funds helped lease a luxury SUV for campaign travel during summer 2010.
In August 2010, campaign officials agreed they would need about $400,000 from Thomspon for get-out-the-vote efforts in advance of the September primary. Thompson said he would need Gray to ask him personally for the funds.
A campaign associate arranged for a dinner meeting in August, during which the two men discussed the status of the race and Gray presented Thompson with a one-page budget. Following the meeting, prosecutors say Thompson provided $566,000 in campaign services in coordination with the shadow campaign, which funded field offices, transportation, yard signs, T-shirts and catering services for the 2010 campaign.
After Gray’s victory in the November general election, and his January 2011 swearing-in, prosecutors say Thompson continued to provide money. He provided $40,000 to pay for home improvements and employment expenses for a close personal friend of the mayor, according to prosecutors.
Gray’s response was unequivocal. “I maintain these are lies,” he told NBC News4 on Monday. “These are absolute lies.”