D.C. Mayor Gray’s Campaign Driver Charged With Conspiracy
WASHINGTON — A sixth person was charged with a crime Thursday related to illegal funding of District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray’s 2010 campaign.
Mark Long, a former D.C. Council candidate who served as driver for Gray during the campaign, was charged with conspiracy.
Gray defeated Adrian Fenty in the 2010 Democratic primary. Soon after Gray took office, mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown alleged that he had been paid by Gray’s campaign to make negative comments about Fenty in exchange for a job in the Gray administration.
The accusation triggered a federal investigation that uncovered a $653,000 slush fund that helped Gray get elected. The money was never reported to campaign-finance officials. Five people associated with the campaign have pleaded guilty to felonies, including the businessman who admitted supplying the illegal funds.
Download: charging documents against Long
Gray has not been charged with a crime and has denied all wrongdoing, but prosecutors have said he knew about what they called a “shadow campaign” and personally requested a large portion of the unreported funds.
The scandal dogged Gray throughout most of his time in office, and he lost the Democratic primary this spring to D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser, who is now favored to win the general election in the mostly Democratic city.
According to a charging document, Long was paid by a public-relations firm closely associated with businessman Jeffrey Thompson, who admitted providing the shadow-campaign funds, to serve as Gray’s driver. Those payments were not reported to campaign finance officials, the documents said.
Prosecutors charged Long was also involved in an effort to persuade another candidate to drop out of the race and endorse Gray in exchange for a job in the administration. The effort included driving Gray to a private meeting with the candidate in Maryland. The candidate, who is not named in court documents, did not drop out of the race or endorse Gray.
Gray is not named in the documents either, but prosecutors have previously named him in court in related cases, and he is the only mayoral candidate alleged to have received secret payments from Thompson, who is named in the documents and is cooperating with authorities.
Long’s attorney, Billy Martin, did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Long was due for a hearing in D.C. Superior Court on Friday.
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