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Gray Supporters Rally, Call For Fairness

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The Rev. Willie Wilson gathered with other Gray supporters outside of the Wilson Building on Wednesday.
Patrick Maddem
The Rev. Willie Wilson gathered with other Gray supporters outside of the Wilson Building on Wednesday.

Supporters of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray are pushing back against the calls for his resignation and pleading for patience, as the federal authorities continue to investigate Gray's 2010 campaign.

Some still loyal to Gray

Through songs, prayers, and impassioned speeches, a small group of ministers, civic activists, and other backers of Mayor Gray took to the front steps of the Wilson Building yesterday to express support for the mayor and to denounce the politicians who have called for his resignation.

Reverend Willie Wilson, who helped organize the rally, says he believes the faith community in D.C. stands behind Gray and views the federal investigation into his campaign as unfair. "To impugn the mayor and scrutinize his campaign and not the campaign of his, for example, who had a $5 million war chest. I think if you gave the kind of scrutiny to that campaign that you gave to this, you would probably find something that isn't right."

This month, three D.C. councilmembers called on the mayor to resign after it was revealed in court that a secret, shadow campaign had been waged on the mayor's behalf.

Prosecutors have not charged Mayor Gray with any wrongdoing  and there's no evidence the mayor knew about the shadow campaign during the race.

Last week, a one-time Gray campaign consulted admitted during a plea hearing to helping orchestrate the off-the-books effort and used more $650,000 in illicit funds from a local government contractor. Two other campaign aides have also pleaded guilty for various crimes.

Wilson says he does not condone the criminal activity, but he thinks prosecutors and members of the media have been unfair to Gray and some of the people caught up in the scandal.

Wilson also says that while he didn't see or know about a secret shadow campaign to help Gray win. "I saw what I see in every campaign," says Wilson. "If you want to look at all these other campaigns, you could find something to say there was a shadow campaign, the labor unions, this group, that group, doing work to get the candidate they favor elected."

Calls for fairness

Others at the rally criticized the council members that have called on the mayor to resign. And they says it's also unfair for people to demand that Gray ignore his legal advice and explain what he knew about the shadow campaign.

Ward activist Dave Donaldson says the mayor deserves due process and people should let the investigation run its course.

It's a sentiment echoed by Gray's attorney, Robert Bennett. "[Mayor Gray] is being treated very unfairly by some in the media and those with their own political agenda... There is a rush to judgment based on speculation and a presumption of guilt. He has not been charged with anything, much less convicted."

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