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The Washington Times seems to have it in for Vincent Gray. Starting back in November, the paper began tracking down everyone involved in renovations on the council chairman’s Hillcrest home, finding that at least one wasn’t licensed in the District—and the project was carried out by W.C. Smith, one of the largest developers in the District. In March, the Times gloated over city officials’ scrutiny of Gray’s large aluminum fence, for which he never got the proper permits from DCRA (red tape’s bitch, isn’t it?).
Earlier this month, it seemed like the inquisition was at an end: The Campaign Finance Office cleared Gray of all wrongdoing, saying that he had paid market rate for his fence ($12,000, apparently) and that there was no reason to believe W.C. Smith had given him a break on the renovations.
But Times reporter Jeffrey Anderson wasn’t buying it. A long and at times hard-to-comprehend article in today’s issue gets into details usually only interesting to political and real estate reporters, matching up the paper’s contacts with Gray to the documents found in the file reviewed by OCF. The most significant new charge, as far as we can tell, is that though the work was done and invoiced over last summer, Gray didn’t cut a check until mid-November—about a week and a half after Anderson started peppering W.C. Smith’s managers with phone calls.
What the Times seems to be suggesting is that WCS might have written off the repairs as a favor to an old friend and potential future mayor, until it looked like Gray might get caught. Of course, there’s no way to prove it—which is why the paper uses verbs like “cloud” and “cast doubt” and “raise questions.” Unless Anderson digs up an email from Smith saying “This one’s on me, Vinnie,” this might be as bad as it gets.
Photo by Mike DeBonis