@mayorvincegray via Twitter: "Here w/ @DDOTDC & @ddoe_dc announcing the completion of our 1st green alley! This will help DC become more sustainable!"
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Wednesday morning, DC Mayor Vincent Gray held his biweekly press conference featuring the Green Alley Program launch but he did offer some remarks on the growing political scandal surrounding his 2010 campaign. View the video above to hear his comments on the scandal from the press conference.
A third person pleaded guilty Tuesday in a federal probe of the campaign. Prosecutors say she was part of a $650,000 illegal "shadow" campaign to get Vincent Gray elected.
Right after the comments on the launch of the Green Alley Program, a reporter asked him about the investigation. Mayor Gray smiled a bit before replying, "I'm glad we've paved the way to that question." Then he chuckled. "It's a pervious issue," he continued, chuckling again.
The mayor told the reporter, "Well, you know, I would like to comment on all of this, to be honest with you. And as I've indicated along the way, this investigation is continuing... obviously it is, obviously there is additional infomation that is, uh, unfolding.
I think many of you will remember that more than a year ago I was the one who called for an investigation into my own campaign. Uh, and, we will continue to work with this investigation. But, you know, again, there are questions that you may have that I can't answer at this stage and hopefully, this will be coming to the point soon where we can."
A Washington Post article from March 7 reads: "District Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Sunday acknowledged 'missteps' and said he wants the city attorney general and the D.C. Council to investigate allegations that aides to his campaign paid mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown last summer to continue his attacks on then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in exchange for a city job."
The mayor has denied any knowledge of wrongdoing in the past. He told reporters on Wednesday that "This is not the campaign we intended to run. I have said to many, many people that I got into this for the right reasons. Um, I probably could have stayed on as council chair or done nothing further, and I got out there to be involved in this because I love the District of Columbia, I'm a native Washingtonian, I'm a product of the schools of this city, I'm a product in almost every way of the District of Columbia. And not to be redundant, but I got into this for the right reasons."
Gray also stressed a distinction between the campaign and his administration and any sense there may be wrongdoing in his administration. He told one reporter, "I have distinguished between the campaign and the administration. And Sam, if there is something about our administration that you want to put your finger on I would invite you to do that, but I think that's a very unfair characterization." Later in the press conference, the mayor brought up the need to separate the campaign and administration again, adding the accomplishments of the administration:
"... I think I'd invite you, as I've often invited you and others, to take a look at what this administration has done. That's why I wanted to make the distinction between the campaign, which we know there are issues with, uh, and governing. Uh, again, I do want to recite our priorities with look at public safety and where we are with public safety.
Look at jobs. We've brought down the jobless rate in the District of Columbia by almost 2 points in less than a year, which is phenomenal in my opinion.
Look at what we're doing in economic development. We have projects that we are directly responsible for that total 2.5 billion dollars and about 8 billion dollars of economic development taking place in the city.
On the issue of education, we continue to make improvements there.
And look at the issue if you want to talk about money look at our, ya know, we stemmed the flow of money out of our fund balance between 7 and 900 million dollars would have been spent in a couple of years period from the fund balance and not only did we stop that we had a 240 million in dollar surplus in an audit that was released in February. So I think the results of how the city is functioning speak for themselves."
In another question involving how he views himself, the mayor replied, "I know who I am. I get up in the morning every day and look in the mirror and I see somebody I respect."
Gray also fielded a question about campaign checks. He explained, "Well, first of all, I received checks during my campaign from a lot of people. And any check or anything that I received was turned in, um, you know, to our folks to be properly recorded on our campaign finance report. I think any candidate will tell you, iIinvite you to go ask other candidates, I don't think any candidate can say 'I'm gonna sit down and review with everybody every check' that you're given. It's just not possible, Mark. And you think about that from a campaign finance perspective, yeah, it might be desirable but you can't do it. It's not possible."
When asked directly if he was interviewed by the FBI, he stated again that the investigation is ongoing. "I want to indicate that again from the very beginning, if you recall, I was one of those that called for an investigation in the first place, and there have been at least three investigations thus far," replied Gray.
The mayor did take a moment to talk about Eugenia "Jeanne" Clark Harris, a campaign aide who confirmed during a plea hearing on Tuesday rumors about a "shadow campaign" supporting Gray and funded by Jeffrey Thompson, who owns an accounting firm and a managed-care provider.
"I've known Jeanne for a very long time and I feel very badly about this but at the same time I'm concerned about what, you know, may or may not have happened in this campaign and certainly the appearance of what may have happened," shared Gray.
When asked if he expected to finish his current plan, Gray responded, "I have no plans to do otherwise."