The latest chapter in an ongoing D.C. government scandal unfolded, as a former campaign aide to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray pleaded guilty to obstruction and campaign fraud.
Thomas Gore, a top campaign aide to Mayor Vincent Gray, pleaded guilty in court today on charges he made straw donations to Sulaimon Brown's mayoral campaign and then destroyed evidence of the payments.
Gore, who ran the day-to-day finances of Gray's 2010 campaign, and also managed his 2004 and 2007 council races, is the first person to face charges in the months-long investigation by federal authorities into improprieties within Gray's mayoral campaign.
Gore pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of campaign finance fraud. The former assistant campaign treasurer faces a sentence of 12 to 18 months in prison for the more serious charge of obstruction, and six months for each of the campaign finance violations. The sentence could be reduced for what is called "significant cooperation."
Sulaimon Brown has long accused Gray campaign officials of paying him cash and promising a job for his help in verbally attacking then-mayor Adrian Fenty on the campaign trail. During his testimony before the council last July, Brown said he received cash and money orders from Gray campaign aides Lorraine Green and Howard Brooks.
"There are money orders from the Gray campaign which the Washington Post has tied directly to family members, friends and relatives of the accused in this case," Brown said at the time.
Gore allegedly used funds from the Gray campaign to write three money orders for Brown's campaign totaling $535 and used other people's names on the donations, according to a criminal information document filed yesterday by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Gore admits he then destroyed the evidence of these payments on March 6, 2011, the U.S. Attorney's office says — on the same day a front page Washington Post article came out with Sulaimon Brown's allegations of a quid pro quo scheme with the Gray campaign. He then lied to FBI agents about the notebook.
He is the first Gray campaign official to be charged in the ongoing federal probe of the Mayor's 2010 campaign.
After the hearing, U.S. Attorney Ron Machen read a statement. It read, in part: "In 2010, the voters of the District of Columbia were deceived. Envelopes, stuffed with fraudulent money orders prevented the public from knowing that one mayoral campaign was secretly financing the campaign of an opposing candidate."
Outside the courthouse, Gore's attorney Fred Cook said he believes that other people will face charges as the investigation continues.Charging Document For Thomas Gore, Aide to Mayor Gray