The dark cloud that hovered over D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray for four months lifted on April 7 after officials cleared him of two alleged ethics violations.
The D.C. Office of Campaign Finance ruled that Gray did not receive special favors for work done on his house last year, nor did he violate campaign laws by using official stationary to solicit funds for the city’s Democratic party.
The ruling could make for easier sailing for Gray as he begins his campaign against Mayor Adrian Fenty in the Democratic primary this fall. “I have said all along that I committed no wrongdoing in connection with both of these situations. Now that the Office of Campaign Finance has concurred, I hope that any unfounded questions raised … can now be put to rest,” Gray said in a statement.
Last December, a Washington Times reporter began investigating whether Gray had a quid pro quo relationship with William C. Smith & Co., a local contractor that had done some architectural and repair services on his home and which has contracts with the city.
But the Campaign Finance Office determined that the $10,000 Gray paid was, “a transaction made at fair market value and in the ordinary course of business that there was no evidence to suggest that the public official’s actions or vote would be influenced by in exchange for the work performed at his home.”
The Office also determined that Gray’s use of Council stationary in a letter sent to Comcast requesting support for D.C. voting rights at the 2008 Democratic Convention was not campaign related since he “was acting within his duties as Chairperson of the Council of the District of Columbia.
Not surprisingly, the city’s Republicans disagreed with the decision.
“There is no way you can say soliciting of a political contribution on government stationary is part of the duties of the Council Chairman,” stated DC Republican Committee Chairman Robert J. Kabel. “Unless the Mayor intervenes, the decision of the will permit Councilmembers to solicit campaign donations while using Council letterhead, staff and resources from this point on.”