A veteran D.C. campaign aide who worked on Mayor Vince Gray's troubled 2010 campaign pleaded guilty to making a false statement to federal officials regarding an investigation into straw contributions made to various local campaigns dating back to 2006.
Vernon Hawkins entered the plea in a D.C. court on Tuesday morning, the day after a criminal information was made public laying out his role in the $653,000 "shadow campaign" that helped get Mayor Vince Gray elected in 2010. Prosecutors said Hawkins gave $8,000 to a caterer who worked on the shadow campaign and persuaded a caterer to leave town for an extended period of time so that they could avoid FBI questioning about the illegal 2010 effort.
The information said that Hawkins worked alongside Jeanne Clarke Harris, who pleaded guilty last year to funneling money to various local campaigns from an unnamed D.C. businessman thought to be Jeffrey Thompson.
The Washington Post reported Monday that Thompson's money wasn't only limited to Gray's 2010 campaign, but also want to at least six other campaigns since 2006. Gray has denied knowing about the shadow campaign funded by Thompson.
“Today Vernon Hawkins became the fourth person to plead guilty to a felony for trying to cover up corruption in the 2010 mayoral election,” said U.S. Attorney for D.C. Ron Machen in a statement.
“Vernon Hawkins was at ground zero of a scheme to design, staff, and execute an off-the-books shadow campaign. After the election, he and his fellow campaign aides sought to impede our investigation by lying to the FBI, shredding documents, creating fake paperwork, and sending witnesses out of the jurisdiction. This guilty plea takes us one step closer to understanding the extent of the deception that tainted the 2010 campaign.”
Other than Hawkins and Harris, former Gray campaign aides Thomas Gore and Howard Brooks pleaded guilty to paying off a third mayoral contender to attack Mayor Adrian Fenty during the 2010 race. Gore was recently sentenced to six months in prison, while Brooks received probation.
Hawkins faces 16 months in prison.
159719428 Vernon Hawkins Information