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D.C. mayor denies he knew of illegal 'shadow campaign'

Jeffrey Thompson holds up his hands to indicate he will not speak to reporters as leaves federal court in Washington, after being charged Monday in a criminal information with two conspiracy offenses stemming from an ongoing investigation Monday, March 10, 2014. District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray was aware of an off-the-books 'shadow campaign' to support his 2010 bid and personally requested the funds from Thompson, federal prosecutors said Monday. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

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By The Associated Press
Monday, March 10, 2014, 9:21 p.m.

WASHINGTON — District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray denies he knew of an off-the-books “shadow campaign” to support his 2010 bid and personally requested the funds from an influential district businessman, he said on Monday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Atkinson disclosed the details in court when reading a document that described the activities of Jeffrey Thompson, the multimillionaire former owner of a well-connected accounting firm who pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges.

The allegations against Gray were included in a document detailing crimes alleged against Thompson.

Gray told WRC-TV on Monday he was not involved or aware of illicit campaign activity, saying “these are absolute lies.”

The mayor said he thought all the fundraising for his campaign was being done in a legitimate way and that he thought Thompson wanted to conceal his donations to Gray for fear of retribution from former Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration.

According to the document, Gray met Thompson for dinner at the apartment of another conspirator in August 2011 and presented Thompson with a one-page budget of $425,000 needed for get-out-the-vote efforts. Thompson agreed to pay that amount by funneling it through another company, the document said.

During an earlier meeting with Thompson, he told the mayor that he would fund his campaign but that the contributions would not come from him or anyone associated with him, the document said. Thompson told Gray to say the money came from “Uncle Earl,” and after the meeting to discuss the shadow campaign, Gray thanked Thompson and referred to him as “uncle,” the document said.

Gray has not been charged with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing in the 2010 campaign.

U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said in a statement: “Today's guilty plea pulls back the curtain on years of widespread corruption. With Mr. Thompson's cooperation, we have the opportunity to hold many wrongdoers accountable and to usher in a new era of honesty, integrity, and transparency in D.C. politics.”

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