Mayor Vince Gray‘s close pal and trusted campaign aide Thomas Gore pleaded guilty today to illegally steering funds from Gray’s mayoral campaign to fringe candidate Sulaimon Brown‘s campaign, then destroying the evidence of the crimes in order to stymy an FBI investigation.
A few noteworthy tidbits from today’s court hearing:
Another Gray campaign aide, Howard Brooks, could very likely have been wearing a wire to help the federal investigation, which would confirm what some of the old lions of TV reported way back in October. Court records describe a “Person A” who conspired with Gore to “secretly [divert] funds” from Gray’s campaign to Brown’s campaign in order to keep Brown in the race so he could continue to badmouth then-Mayor Adrian Fenty. The records also say that Person A’s family member and people connected to that family member are connected to the Gray-campaign-financed money orders that wound up going to Brown’s campaign. Those details, plus the serial numbers of the money orders, all point to Person A being Brooks.
The court records says Gore and Person A met Sept. 22, 2011, at Gore’s office to plan how to deal with the federal investigation into Gray’s campaign. The court records quote Gore verbatim saying that he “used to keep a record of what went to” Brown and that he “shredded” those records. In court today, when the judge was going over the court records to make sure Gore knew what he was pleading guilty to, Gore said that conversation “was a statement taken from a wire.” That’s Gore’s guess, of course, and he could very well be wrong.
Brooks’ attorney, Glenn Ivey, says he had no comment. Either way, if Gore hadn’t written down records of the donations, he wouldn’t have had to destroy evidence in a federal investigation—by far the most serious charge he pleaded guilty to today.
2) If you’re going to meet with the FBI, don’t lie to them.
Court records also say that less than a month after Gore met with Person A to talk about how to deal with the feds, he voluntarily met with FBI agents. (He’d been given a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury a week before the FBI meeting.) During the interview, Gore lied to the FBI three times. First, he said he hadn’t spoken to Person A about any records. Second, he said he never kept any records of paying Brown. The FBI must have called him on that lie, because his third lie was saying that he destroyed the records of Brown’s payments after the general election, when in fact he did that on the very same day Brown’s allegations of a quid pro quo first landed on the front page of the Washington Post.
3) You mean multiple people thought this was a good idea?
Court records indicate that Gore did not act alone in hatching the woefully stupid plan to fund Brown to keep him in the race. Court records say Gore acted in concert with “other members” of the Gray campaign. Who are the others, and do they also have a date with federal prosecutors looming?
4) Bad money coming in means bad money going out.
Court records also say Gore converted “excessive or unattributed cash contributions” given to the Gray campaign into the money orders that went to Brown. Where’d that extra money come from? The Post reported last summer that the Gray campaign had the unusual, if not illegal, practice of taking cash donations over the $25 limit and converting them into money orders. Who knew those money orders may have actually been for someone else’s campaign!
Photo by Darrow Montgomery