Thomas Gore, a key campaign finance official with Vincent Gray’s 2010 Mayoral campaign, pled guilty to election violations on May 22.

The 56-year-old Gore pled guilty to one count of obstructing justice and three counts of making campaign contributions in the name of another person.

Gore, assistant campaign treasurer for Gray, admitted to paying Sulaimon Brown, also a 2010 mayoral candidate, over $650. According to the district attorney’s office, that money was paid to Brown so that he could stay in the race and muddy up former Mayor Adrian Fenty, without dirt getting on the hands of Gray.

“In 2010, the voters of the District of Columbia were deceived,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. in a statement. “Envelopes stuffed with fraudulent money orders prevented the public from knowing that one mayoral campaign was secretly financing the campaign of an opposing candidate. This prosecution demonstrates how hard it is to bury the truth forever and reflects our commitment to ensuring that the people of the District of Columbia get the fair and transparent electoral system that they deserve.”

Gore also admitted to destroying a spiral notebook in which he documented payments made to Sulaimon Brown.

Brown had long contended that the Gray campaign made payments to him. It was first reported in a Washington Post article, but that prompted a grand jury probe and hearings before the city council.

In that hearing, Brown wore sunglasses and opened with “the mayor is a crook.” He also said that Gray’s campaign promised him an $110,000 per year job at the Department of Healthcare Finance, in which he did indeed hold until he was fired.

Also in that hearing, Brown said he was told to say “Go Brown, Go Gray. Go any color but Fenty” while on the campaign trail.

“They wanted me to continue to say it,” Brown said. “It kind of bloomed from there.”

Documents also indicate that an unnamed staffer for the Gray campaign was in on the scheme as well. Brown alleges that Gray’s campaign consultant Howard L.

Brooks and campaign chair Lorraine Green provided him with money orders on different occasions. In their hearings, Brooks invoked his right to the Fifth Amendment and Green denied the allegations.

The obstruction charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison as well as fines. Each campaign finance violation carries a six month maximum sentence and fines.

The government and Gore have agreed to a sentencing range of 12 to 18 months and a fine in between $3,000 and $30,000.

Gray has not been implicated in the investigation. However, federal authorities have sent the warning saying that they will not tolerate fraud by any public figure.

“Citizens are entitled to a government free of fraud and corruption, and the FBI will investigate all allegations of illegal conduct that undermines fair and free elections,” said James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, in a statement. “We remain vigilant in investigating such abuse to identify those involved and to hold them accountable for their unscrupulous actions.”

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO