Will allegations against DC mayor hurt his re-election bid?

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- The big question now in the DC political crisis is, what kind of impact will the sweeping campaign corruption allegations against Mayor Vincent Gray have on his re-election bid and the Democratic mayoral primary, which is now just three weeks away?

The Mayor's campaign manager, Chuck Thies, put out a statement saying, "Jeff Thompson is an admitted felon who ran a criminal enterprise that sought to subvert Democracy. He went so far as to illegally meddle in a presidential election. When you take that into consideration, it is hard to believe a word he says."

But U.S. Attorney Ron Machen clearly believes him, and he warned anyone involved in wrongdoing that he's "not going away."

Many of the candidates looking to succeed Mayor Gray were keeping a low profile. There are a whole lot of them who have taken money from Thompson.

Leading challenger Muriel Bowser released a statement saying, "Today is a tragic day for DC politics and our City. The citizens of our great City are witnesses to a flagrant betrayal of the public trust." But she said nothing about any money she might have taken from Thompson.

The one guy who perhaps gains most from this is the one guy who has refused corporate donations, Tommy Wells. "It's a good day for justice. We're finally cleaning up and getting to the root of the culture of corruption in D-C," he said.

Wells was so eager to talk about the charges, he turned up at the courthouse where Thompson was pleading to two counts of conspiracy to subvert local and federal campaign laws. "Jeffrey Thompson, the largest contractor in the city, he didn't give money because he like folks," said Wells. "He gave money because he needed to protect his contracts."

Bowser's staffers initially said we could talk to her while she campaigned in the afternoon, an hour later said they said they were reevaluating, and she never became available for an on-camera interview.

We did catch up with Jack Evans but he told us he wanted to wait for more details before commenting.

"Both of them were subpoenaed for taking money from Jeffrey Thompson," said Wells. "I've never taken a time from Jeffrey Thompson. I've never asked for money from him."

Also missing, the usually garrulous Vincent Orange, whose 2011 campaign allegedly received $148,000 from Thompson. That's mentioned in the criminal pleadings but Orange goes un-named.

One non-mayoral candidate was also eager to talk. Jim Graham says his a victim of Thompson's funding schemes.His opponent for the Ward One council seat got tens of thousands of dollars from the now convicted felon. "I remember seeing this at the time and and thinking, 'Oh, my God, $26,000 from one set of entities,'" says Graham. But it turns out it was a lot more than that. "It turns out it was $166,000!"

Two recent polls suggest a lot of DC voters are concerned about this investigation but at last check, Mayor Gray was still far in front of any of his challengers. Still Thompson's allegation that he solicited him to fund a shadow campaign this has got to be bad news for the Mayor's re-election effort. And we will have to see how people take it in Wards 7 and 8, where he is still intensely popular.


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