Current Washington D.C. Mayor Vince Gray is still fighting off accusations that he aided in an illegal shadow campaign, but these allegations have not deterred many voters from supporting him.
It’s the type of scandal that can ruin a political career or swing an election in the opponent’s favor, but it appears that Gray will emerge from this controversy victorious.
Although some residents urged Gray to resign back in July 2012 over these same accusations, he is ahead in the polls and favorable among voters.
Gray is currently under federal investigation as two of his former campaign aides claim he not only knew about illegal efforts to funnel over $650,000 in unreported funds, but he also aided in the secret campaign.
According to many D.C. voters, the accusations will not impact their decision at the polls, but Gray still received much-needed support from a well-loved and respected politician in the area.
Marion Barry, the 78-year-old council member and former four-term mayor, slowly made his way on to the Matthews Memorial Baptist Church stage to offer support for Gray in the midst of controversy.
Barry, in failing health, told the crowd that he is fighting a blood infection but felt the need to come out and speak on Gray’s behalf.
“There have been some allegations made about Vince Gray,” Barry said to the crowd, as they cheered “Power to the people.”
“I know Vince Gray is a man of integrity. I know Vince Gray is not about taking taxpayer money. I know Vince Gray isn’t about breaking the law, ” Barry said.
Barry was wrapped up in his own political controversy during his time in office as well and instead of ignoring the scandal in his past, he used it to further strengthen his defense for Gray.
“You know I know how the U.S. attorney works,” he said, referring to his arrest and imprisonment on cocaine possession charges while he was in office in the 1990s. “I know their tactics.”
Both Gray and Barry have suggested that Gray’s accusers are only pointing their fingers at him because the U.S. attorney offered them plea bargains if they did so.
Either way, anyone’s attempt to soil Gray’s name in the community seems to be pointless.
Residents claim he was the first mayor to follow up on his promises to reach out to lower income neighborhoods and parts of the city that had been largely neglected.
“He’s the only person that has actually done some projects in Ward 8,” said Jackie Ward, a 55-year-old resident of the neighborhood. “People would come across here and promise us this and that, the third and the fourth, and never actually did anything.”
Another Gray supporter, 65-year-old Joanne Dove, agreed with Ward.
“He is doing things for the people that other candidates talk about,” she said. “He knows the city has to help the parts of the city that have been overlooked for years.”
With the election roughly two weeks away, Gray has managed to lead in the polls by 8 percent against council member Muriel Bowser.
Earlier this week, Gray promised his supporters that no matter what the findings of the federal investigation are, he still plans to stay in the mayoral race through the general election.