<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - First Read]]> Copyright 2016 http://www.nbcwashington.com/blogs/first-read-dmv http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Fri, 29 Apr 2016 06:16:13 -0400 Fri, 29 Apr 2016 06:16:13 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[MD's GOP Candidate Looks Ahead at Her Path to US Senate]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 20:44:05 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Kathy+Szleiga+042716.jpg Kathy Szeliga, the Republican candidate for Maryland's open U.S. Senate seat vacated by Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski, explains News4's Chris Gordon why she thinks she can beat Democratic candidate Rep. Chris Van Hollen in an overwhelmingly Democratic state and how the popularity of presidential GOP front-runner Donald Trump could help her campaign.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Soccer, Statehood and More]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 05:57:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Muriel-Bowser-AP_816174278725.jpg

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was wielding a silver-plated sledge hammer on Monday.

She didn’t wave it at reporters (Terrific restraint, Mayor!).

Bowser, instead, was enjoying the ceremonial demolition starting construction of the new $300 million D.C. United soccer stadium in Southwest.

The site is just across South Capitol Street from Nationals Park. It’s due to open in 2018. The city is responsible for purchasing and clearing the land. The team is responsible for the stadium itself. Your Notebook has scowled at the unimaginative design, but we’re told it’s not finished.

Bowser did get into some big machinery. She pulled a few levers to knock down a wall. The mayor says it’s a bit scary to do, but she’s happy to promote the 1,000 construction and permanent jobs the project represents.

The soccer stadium is a centerpiece of what will be a complete makeover of Southwest land that is now dotted with a concrete plant and other industrial uses.

“This is the opportunity to really help to rethink the way Buzzard Point and this end of Southwest are really realized,” said Ward 6 D.C. Council member Charles Allen. More than a billion dollars of investments are expected in the once-ignored area.

Monday’s ceremony was picketed by activists from Empower DC. The group contends there are serious environmental concerns with clearing the land. Nearby public housing residents say they fear worsening air pollution. They also fear the potential gentrification that will move them out.

Mayor Bowser and Council member Allen say they are mindful of those concerns. “We think any investment in this area is going to enhance the quality of life for everybody,” Bowser told us.

■ Kasich KOs statehood. Presidential candidate John Kasich is the Republican governor of Ohio. But he’s not interested in the District’s bid for statehood. Maybe, he says when asked whether our delegate to Congress should have voting rights, but he hasn’t really thought about it.

Here’s his full quote in a brief, satellite interview on Monday with NBC4’s Chris Gordon:

“I’m not for statehood. I mean the idea that somebody who is a delegate would have the right to vote, I’m not opposed to that. I need to look at all the ramifications, but I’m not for statehood. The reason I’m not for statehood is the founders set it up so D.C. would be a neutral place. I think they were wise in doing that. As for the delegate, I’m open to the suggestion.”

It sounds like he’s been talking to former Virginia Rep. Tom Davis, who tried mightily to get voting rights for D.C.’s delegate. But Davis was thwarted by District politicians who turned down the chance in favor of full voting rights in the House and the Senate someday. That’s the operative word. No one in authority in the District ever heard of the phrase, “a bird in the hand … .”

Maybe activists can point out new statistics from the city’s tax office. District citizens (not just “residents”) paid more than $26 billion in taxes to the federal government in 2014, but got back only $3.5 billion. That figure doesn’t include matching funds that all states receive.

As DCist reported, the District’s federal tax payments are bigger than 22 states and Puerto Rico. Now, that’s taxation without representation.

■ It’s alive! New opposition filings to the $6.8 billion merger of Pepco and Exelon seek to ensure this isn’t a done deal after all. Although the Public Service Commission in March voted 2-1 to (finally) approve the deal, the Office of the People’s Counsel now wants reconsideration. “I strongly believe that the manner in which the decision was reached was legally flawed,” said people’s advocate Sandra Mattavous-Frye in a release late last week.

However, many people believe it’s extremely unlikely the PSC will attempt to rewire this deal.

■ A final word. Former D.C. school board member R. Calvin Lockridge died this weekend. He was 81 and had been in ill health for several years. But in his day, Lockridge was a controversial, combative member of the school board — a key player in its struggles to improve schools and retain superintendents amid many battles.

In 1988, Lockridge was under fire for meddling in staff hiring at Ballou High School and other ward schools. Linda Cropp, then the school board president, threatened to censure his actions.

Responding to The Washington Post at the time, Lockridge was unapologetic, saying high-level jobs weren’t going to Ward 8 residents in an unfair system. “I plead guilty to hustling jobs for the Ward 8 constituents. I have made no bones about the fact that my constituents are generally not qualified for professional jobs. So when opportunities for custodians, food services and other jobs become available, I demand that those positions be made available to my constituents.”

The Post’s Colby King in 1998 wrote a withering article about “buffoonery” in city government, singling out Lockridge for, among other things, his numerous antics and possible wrongdoings. “If the city had an Elected Officials Hall of Shame, Lockridge would be a charter member. A loud, antics-loving political figure, he made D.C. voters look like they had lost their minds.”

Despite all, the Notebook does miss those occasional calls from Lockridge offering up some off-the-record tips or gossip. “I’m talking to you now, just you,” he’d say in hushed tones before passing along information. But Lockridge, despite the flaws, was far from hushed in public life.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Who Will President Obama Roast at This Year's White House Correspondents' Dinner? ]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 16:42:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/whcd2016-04-26_1652.jpg PYPO Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Thorp discusses the humor, celebrities and parties that come with the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner. She predicts that President Obama won't hold back in the comedy roast.]]> <![CDATA[MD Results Delayed as 4 Baltimore Polls Close Late]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 21:16:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Voting-Sign-Generic-Ballot-1.jpg

Results for the presidential campaign and a U.S. Senate race were delayed in Maryland Tuesday night after a judge granted an injunction to keep some polls in Baltimore City open past the 8 p.m. scheduled closing.

News4’s Chris Gordon said the judge ordered four precincts in the city to remain open until 9 p.m. The injunction was filed by attorney Billy Murphy on behalf of U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski.

Edwards campaign press secretary Ben Gedis told WBAL-TV reporter Kai Reed the judge ruled any poll location opening 45 minutes or more late would be remain open the same amount of the delay, up to 9 p.m.

Linda Lamone, state administrator for the Maryland State Board of Elections said two precincts in Baltimore opened more than an hour late and 12 opened less than one hour late.

The locations are John Eager Howard Elementary School, Beth-Am Synagogue, Oliver Multi-Purpose Center and Pimlico Elementary School.

Montgomery County Board of Elections said because of the Baltimore City situation, they would not be able to release results until 9 p.m. Prince George's County also will not release results until all polls are closed.

The Associated Press said the State Board of Elections will not release any results while any polling places remain open.

The court proceedings were delayed after a small fire in the courthouse forced evacuation of the building. No one was hurt, and the small fire was quickly extinguished.

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<![CDATA[Md. Votes: What You Need to Know for Primary Day]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 19:06:31 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Maryland+Flag.jpg

Tuesday is primary election day in Maryland, and residents can cast their votes for president, U.S. Senate and several local races.

Here's what you need to know before you head to the polls, plus a rundown of some top races, in case your mind still is not made up:

When and Where to Vote

The polls will be open until 8 p.m. Anyone in line by 8 p.m. will be able to vote, the State Board of Elections says on its website.

To see where your polling site is located, check your voting districts and see a sample ballot, check the Board of Elections website.

Some first-time voters will be asked to show identification before they can cast their ballots. A government-issued photo ID or a copy of a current bill with your name and address will be accepted, the election board's website says.

Higher than usual turnout is expected. 

Races to Watch

President: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each hold big leads against their party rivals in the race for the presidency in Maryland, poll results released earlier this month show.

Clinton, the former secretary of state, holds a 22-point lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, according to the NBC4/Marist Maryland Poll conducted April 5-9. Among the Republican primary electorate polled, Trump holds a 12-point lead against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

U.S. Senate: Rep. Donna Edwards and Rep. Chris Van Hollen top the packed race to replace Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D), who is retiring after five terms.

Edwards is giving up her 4th Congressional District seat, representing parts of Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties, to make the leap to the Senate. Van Hollen is giving up his 8th Congressional District seat, representing Carroll and Frederick counties, plus parts of Montgomery County.

The candidates are similar in political outlook, News4's Tom Sherwood said in his Sherwood's Notebook column. Edwards has cast herself as an outsider who will contribute to the diversity of the Senate, and Van Hollen is viewed as the establishment candidate, Sherwood wrote. See the websites for Edwards and Van Hollen for more information on their campaigns.

Van Hollen has a six-point edge over Edwards, results of the NBC4/Marist Maryland Poll conducted April 5-9 show. Van Hollen commanded 44 percent of likely Democratic primary voters reached in the poll. Edwards won 38 percent of likely voters. Eighteen percent of voters were undecided in the poll, for which data on likely Democratic primary voters had a 3.5 percentage point margin of error.

Voters for Van Hollen skew white, male and older than 45, the polle results show. The majority of African-American likely Democratic primary voters polled said they would support Edwards.

The front-runners also have to deal with Democratic challenges from more than a half-dozen other candidates: Freddie Donald Dickson Jr., Ralph Jaffe, Teresa C. Scaldaferri, Charles U. Smith, Violet Staley, Blaine Taylor, Ed Tinus and Lih Young.

A long list of Republican candidates will also try to win the Senate seat: Chris Chaffee, Sean P. Connor, Richard J. Douglas, John R. Graziani, Greg Holmes, Joseph David Hooe, Chrys Kefalas, Mark McNicholas, Lynn Richardson, Anthony Seda, Richard Shawver, Kathy Szeliga, Dave Wallace and Garry Thomas Yarrington

4th Congressional District: The race for Edwards' open seat to represent parts of Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties drew six candidates, including two Prince George's County Democrats with strong name recognition: former lieutenant governor Anthony G. Brown and former state's attorney Glenn Ivey.

Brown, who was elected to lieutenant governor on a ticket with Martin O'Malley in 2006, unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2014, suffering a defeat to now-Gov. Larry Hogan. He previously served two four-year terms in the House of Delegates and is currently a colonel in the Army Reserve, according to his campaign page.

Ivey, who served as a state's attorney for Prince George's County from 2002 to 2010, ran for election to the District 4 House seat in 2012 but dropped out before the filing date due to insufficient funding. Ivey does not believe he will have trouble raising enough money for a competitive race this time around, The Washington Post reported

Warren Christopher, Matthew Fogg, Joseline Peña-Melnyk and Terence Strait also are vying for the seat in the heavily Democratic district.

Christopher is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and former chief of staff at the Department of the Interior, according to his campaign page.

Fogg was formerly with the U.S. Marshals Service, retiring as deputy marshal with a distinguished career, according to his campaign page

Peña-Melnyk is the current state delegate representing a district consisting of Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties. She won the endorsement of The Washington Post editorial board for her "energy, grit and determination." Peña-Melnyk worked as a lawyer representing abused and neglected children, according to her campaign page.

Strait received a master's degree in psychology and served in the U.S. Army, according to his campaign site.

Robert "Bro" Broadus, Rob Buck, George McDermott and David Therrien are running for the Republican nomination.

6th Congressional DistrictEight Republican candidates, one Democratic candidate and one Green Party candidate are vying to challenge incumbent Democrat John Delaney for the District 6 seat. The 6th District, which spans from Potomac and Gaithersburg to Garrett County in western Maryland, was redrawn -- gerrymandered, according to critics -- in 2011 to boost chances of electing a Democrat. About half of the district's registered voters live in Montgomery County, Bethesda Magazine reported.

Delaney was elected in 2012 and narrowly beat Republican Dan Bongino in his second run, according to Ballotpedia. Prior to serving in the House, Delaney was an entrepreneur, according to his campaign site.

Puca was a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates in 2010. He was a business owner and CEO before he became a mortgage loan officer, according to his campaign site.

Two Republican candidates are being called standouts because of their expensive campaigns. Amie Hoeber has indicated a willingness to pump substantial personal funds into the contest, increasing pressure on opponents to intensify their fundraising and spending. Her focus is on national security and environmental cleanup programs, according to her campaign page.

Conservative State Del. David Vogt, a veteran Marine and the 2010 Marine of the Year, also is running for the seat. As delegate, Vogt has fought to cut taxes, balance the budget and uphold the Second Amendment. His campaign has been endorsed by more than 30 conservative leaders from Maryland, according to his campaign page.

Terry Baker, Scott Cheng, Robin Ficker, Frank Howard, Christopher Mason and Harold Painter also are running for the Republican nomination for this House seat. Green Party candidate George Gluck is seeking the nomination as well.

8th Congressional District: District 8 is becoming one of the most expensive primary contests for a House seat in the nation. The 8th Congressional District is fairly Democratic, and although there is a wealth of candidates, it appears to be a three-way race.

Kathleen Matthews worked as a reporter for WJLA before she became an executive for Marriott International. Some of Matthews' opponents have questioned campaign donations from guests of husband Chris Matthews' MSNBC talk show "Hardball," The Washington Post reported.

The Maryland Senate's majority whip, Jamie Raskin, is a constitutional law professor at American University and has played key roles in legalizing same-sex marriage and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to his campaign page.

David Trone is the founder of Total Wine & More with a story of success after he worked on his father's farm. The Montgomery County businessman personally put more than $12 million into the contest. That's the most anyone has ever self-funded a House campaign. His knowledge in politics from his business makes him an able candidate, according to his campaign page.

David M. Anderson, Kumar P. Barve, Dan Bolling, Ana Sol Gutierrez, William Jawando and Joel Rubin also are on the ballot on the Democratic side.

On the Republican side, Dan Cox, Jeffrey W. Jones, Liz Matory, Aryeh Shudofsky and Shelly Skolnick are running.

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<![CDATA[Kasich, Cruz Team Up Against Trump]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 13:32:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2016-04-25_1331_001.jpg The presidential hopefuls announced their plan to team up against front-runner Donald Trump -- but Trump said they're too late. Mark Murray, senior political editor for NBC News, has more on the alliance and Tuesday's primary.]]> <![CDATA[Candidates Visit Maryland Ahead of Primary]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 14:39:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014451691_1200x675_670604867528.jpg Maryland weighs in on the race for the White House next week. It's one of five states holding primaries on Tuesday. The latest polls have both front runners leading by double digits. News4's Molette Green has more on the last-minute campaigning expected in the state Thursday.]]> <![CDATA[MD Senate Candidates Court Labor at Verizon Strike]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 21:34:26 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Edwards+vs+Van+Hollen+V2.jpg

The leading candidates vying for Maryland’s coveted U.S. Senate seat tried to rally support from union workers Wednesday.

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-4th District) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-8th District) participated in a rally in Silver Spring. The Communications Workers of America are on strike against Verizon.

“I always stand on the side of American workers and always stand on the side of organized workers and always stand people who want to build jobs, opportunity and the middle class for all of our families,” Edwards said.

When the company is doing well, workers should be doing well, Van Hollen said.

“But the profits from that worker productivity, where are they going? They're not going to increased wages and benefits for workers, they're just going to increase bonuses for the CEO and executives at the very top,” he said.

Both candidates are counting on labor to turn out the vote in Tuesday’s primary.

“I was standing with CWA and have been standing with workers always and I'm proud to have the support of the vast majority of organized labor here in the great state of Maryland and across the country,” Edwards said.

Van Hollen said he won the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union, which previously backed Edwards.

“When Congresswoman Edwards was first running for office, they were a major force behind her campaign, and they've said that they're backing me in this race because I've actually been there.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mont. Co. State's Attorney Diagnosed With Cancer]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 12:51:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/042016+john+mccarthy.jpg

Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy was diagnosed with cancer and is expected to take medical leave, a spokesman for the office said Wednesday.

McCarthy was recently diagnosed with cancer of the neck and is being treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is expected to have surgery, take a brief medical leave and be recovered by summer, the spokesman said.

Deputy state's attorneys will fill in for McCarthy in his absence.

“The people of Montgomery County should rest assured that Deputy State's Attorneys Laura Chase and Peter Feeney, prosecutors and staff are fully prepared to diligently continue the difficult and important work of keeping our community safe,” McCarthy said in a statement.

McCarthy has served as state's attorney since 2006. He previously was a deputy state's attorney for 10 years.

Well-wishes to McCarthy can be sent to the Office of the State's Attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland, 50 Maryland Ave. 5th Floor, Rockville, Maryland 20850.



Photo Credit: Montgomery County]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Stuck... in Downtown DC ]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 05:40:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/031616_DC_Traffic.jpg

Baseball great Yogi Berra knew just how to say things.

Mentioning a popular restaurant in St. Louis back in 1959, Berra remarked, "Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded."

Welcome to Yogi Berra's downtown D.C. Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.

This past weekend, your Notebook biked through downtown.

The good news: It was crowded everywhere on Saturday.

The bad news: It was crowded everywhere on Saturday.

Roadways and side streets were clogged all day long with slow-moving, or nonmoving, traffic. And there was little to no traffic control. If there were D.C. Department of Transportation traffic control officers on duty, we didn’t see much of them.

There was traffic control for both the Cherry Blossom Parade and D.C. Emancipation Day Parade and concert on Saturday. But there was little or no traffic control to help motorists get around roadblocks.

As we biked from block to block — sometimes walking our bike on the sidewalks — we witnessed frustrated motorists running lights, making illegal turns and generally ignoring rules of the road. It was unsafe and scary at times.

If the nation's capital is going to invite people downtown, it seems like we could be more reasonable about allowing them to get around.

The Notebook understands and has written that this growing city can't accommodate everyone driving private vehicles. But we don't understand why traffic control is such a low priority in a growing city. We reached out to Richard Bradley, who helped start and run the Downtown Business Improvement District for many years. He still keeps an eye on what’s happening.

"We're growing up," Bradley told us. "We're a bigger city, and that requires a lot more attention and resources, or we begin to lose the people coming here."

He said, "What you're dealing with requires traffic management solutions, using technology to monitor the speed of cars that are moving and not moving... but we’ve not gotten there."

Bradley wasn’t being specifically critical of anyone. He was just responding to our questions.

Your Notebook, however, is blunter.

In this growing city, why is traffic so bad virtually every day, special event or not?

Why is traffic control so ineffective?

Go to ddot.dc.gov. It explains any number of traffic-calming programs. There are traffic cameras and speed cameras. There are timed walk signals, rush-hour no-parking signs, commercial-parking-only spaces, and bike lanes and crosswalks. There is even a guide for private construction companies to know what they can and can’t do to block traffic temporarily. And there are traffic control officers assigned to school areas.

Taken together, it doesn't explain the lack of traffic management.

We did a story for NBC4 about how the city is trying to improve the parking situation because one-quarter of the downtown traffic is people circling looking for parking. That's a good goal. But never mind special-events coverage downtown — daily traffic is bad, and rush hour is worse.

Trucks routinely park in rush-hour zones. (This is an all-too-common practice on 12th Street NW northbound from Pennsylvania Avenue, for instance.)

There apparently aren't enough traffic control officers to smooth traffic at more than a handful of critical intersections. Whatever we're doing is not enough.

Let's just hope "nobody goes there" doesn't become all too real.

■ The shadow knows. We wrote last week about the "shadow campaign" that ensnarled former Mayor Vince Gray’s doomed effort at re-election. We asked the question again: Why wasn't Gray charged in that nearly five-year-long investigation of his 2010 campaign?

The next day, we got part of the answer. The Washington Post broke the story that many reporters (including this one) had been competing to get for months.

One of the reasons Gray wasn't charged is because of the private sexual history involving Jeffrey Thompson, the man who financed the shadow campaign. The Washington Post was first to report Thompson had a murky past of possibly paying men with gifts and cash. Whether any of it was illegal is unclear. But it turns out Thompson's credibility on the witness stand against Gray would have been severely compromised.

Attorneys for Thompson declined to comment to either The Post or NBC4, which also reported part of the story.

Gray is now running for the Ward 7 D.C. Council seat. He has insisted all along that he didn’t know about the shadow campaign and did nothing wrong. Nearly a thousand pages of court documents released last week didn't add much more to the story.

Political consultant Chuck Thies, who ran Gray's 2014 race for re-election, is now his treasurer and chief consultant for the council campaign against incumbent Yvette Alexander. Thies objects to the developing narrative that Gray wasn't charged because Thompson was a flawed character who couldn't be believed on the witness stand. Rather, Thies said the cache of documents released last week failed to show even tangential wrongdoing by Gray.

Many Gray supporters contend that prosecutors were so intent on prosecuting Gray that they overlooked the wrongdoing of Thompson, who illegally spent millions of dollars influencing local and national races. Thompson is due back in court on June 10 for sentencing.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

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<![CDATA[Ted Cruz, John Kasich Events in Maryland]]> Mon, 18 Apr 2016 12:38:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-521247326.jpg

Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich are coming to Maryland ahead of the state's primary April 26. 

Cruz is headed to Towson, Maryland for a rally Monday at the Towson American Legion (125 York Road, Townson), starting at 1:30 p.m. Doors open at 12:30 p.m. You can register for the event online here.

Kasich will visit Annapolis on Tuesday for a town hall meeting starting at 6 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza of Annapolis (173 Jennifer Road, Annapolis). Find more information and register online here.



Photo Credit: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez]]>
<![CDATA[Popular Candidates Trail in Favorability Ratings: Poll]]> Sun, 17 Apr 2016 23:43:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/JohnKasich-AP_631244765020.jpg

Only two White House hopefuls are enjoying a net positive rating among registered voters, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who trails the other two Republican candidates, has the highest net positive rating at 31 percent, while Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders enjoys a 45 percent positive rating.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump remains very unpopular with Americans as a whole, with almost two-thirds of voters giving him a thumbs down. Trump scored with a net 41 percent negative rating. 

Rival Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton are also rating negatively when it comes to their overall favorability — with a negative score of 49 and 56 percent respectively. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Court Releases Docs From Mayor Gray Investigation]]> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 19:49:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Vincent-Gray-AP_247605509720.jpg

A federal court released almost 1,000 pages of previously sealed court documents from the criminal investigation of Vincent Gray's 2010 campaign for mayor.

The heavily redacted documents focus on results of warrants involving a $650,000 shadow campaign that helped elect Gray and operated alongside Gray's legitimate campaign.

The pages offer new details of how businessman Jeffrey Thompson, who pleaded guilty, financed the shadow campaign and how a group of operatives close to Gray carried it out and how they tried to cover it up as prosecutors closed in.

The documents show the extensive search of homes, offices, bank records, Internet addresses and campaign accounts.

The investigation lasted almost five years, and a half-dozen people close to Gray pleaded guilty.

Gray denied any wrongdoing in the case and wasn’t charged in the probe, which ended in December.

Chuck Thies, the treasurer for Gray’s current campaign for the D.C. Council’s Ward 7 seat, told News4 the current campaign isn't worried about the document release.

“The campaign has zero concern about any of these court proceedings, any of the content that is in these documents,” he said. “I mean it’s clear: An independent U.S. Attorney looked at this and said Vince Gray was not involved.”

The release of the documents followed Thursday’s reports that prosecutors, in part, declined to charge Gray because of Thompson’s personal sexual history. Thompson's attorneys declined to comment.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Witness Credibility Concerns Derailed Gray Investigation: Sources]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 21:16:50 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Jeffrey+Thompson+file.jpg

The federal investigation into former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray ended in part because of serious questions about the credibility of star witness Jeffrey Thompson, the Washington Post reported and sources told to News4.

Thompson’s credibility faltered last year as prosecutors investigated allegations about his sexual relationships with men and uncertainty about the ages of some of those men, the Washington Post reported.

Federal prosecutors are expected to release new information from the shadow campaign investigation that troubled Gray while he was mayor.

The Post filed suit to release records from the investigation, saying it wanted to answer a key question: Why prosecutors never brought charges against Gray despite clear public signals Gray's indictment was likely.

Gray's case was dropped in December.

Sources said Gray's lawyer, Robert Bennett, warned prosecutors Thompson's private life included questionable sexual relations with a variety of men and possibly some under age and that would be used against Thomson if Gray went to trial. The Post's report Thursday disclosed how the allegations about Thompson, including possible money and gifts to hide sexual relationships, undermined Thompson's credibility should he take the stand in a trial.

Earlier this week, Bennett declined to comment.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said it is not in a position to comment on the case.

Earlier this week, attorneys for Thompson declined to comment on any aspect of the investigation. Thompson couldn't be reached.

Gray is running for the Ward 7 seat on the D.C. Council against incumbent Yvette Alexander, who supported him as mayor.

"As far as I'm concerned, that investigation concerning me was closed on Dec. 9 of 2015, and that's exactly where I leave it at this point," Gray said Thursday.

Twelve people pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the investigation, which uncovered evidence of more than $3.3 million in illegal contributions to various campaigns between 2006 and 2011.

Thompson admitted setting up an illegal $660,000 slush fund that aided Gray's campaign. Prosecutors said Gray knew about the money.

Gray lost his bid for re-election to Mayor Muriel Bowser but maintained his innocence throughout the investigation.

Background of the Investigation

When Sulaimon Brown ran against Gray and former Mayor Adrian Fenty in 2010, he would lash out at Fenty during debates. After Gray’s victory, Brown got a job with a $110,000 salary as special assistant at the Department of Health Care and Finance in Gray's administration, but later was fired.

Then Brown told reporters he was paid by Gray's campaign to attack Fenty in return for the job, which is illegal under D.C. law.

When Brown went public with his allegations, Gray’s assistant campaign treasurer, Thomas Gore, and another campaign consultant, Howard Brooks, tried to cover up what they were accused of doing. Federal prosecutors said Gore used campaign cash to buy blank money orders that Brooks delivered to Brown.

The 'Shadow Campaign'

When former U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen began investigating Brown’s allegations, his office unearthed the shadow campaign.

Money for paid canvassers who were put up in hotels and ferried around town in rented vehicles with paid drivers distributing thousands of yard signs, stickers and car magnets came from a D.C. businessman, federal prosecutors said. News4 sources identified him as Thompson, who owns several companies, including DC Chartered Health Plan, the most lucrative government contract in the District.

Thompson wrote checks worth $653,000 to his longtime friend Eugenia Clarke Harris, federal prosecutors said. She pleaded guilty in July 2012 to funneling the money through her PR company so the shadow campaign could buy thousands of political T-shirts, yard signs and other campaign gear.

Guilty Pleas

On May 22, 2012, Gore became the first person to plead guilty in the investigation on one count of obstruction of justice and three counts of making campaign donations in the name of another person.

Two days later, Brooks pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators, telling a judge he was instructed to pay Brown for the attacks on Fenty. Brooks acknowledged in U.S. District Court giving $2,810 in money orders to Brown, but he did not reveal who told him to pay Brown.

June 10, 2013, former Council member Michael Brown pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from undercover FBI agents and agreed to cooperate in the investigation into Gray’s campaign and its connection to Thompson. Charging documents revealed he received $20,000 in off-the-books campaign contributions from Harris.

Lee Calhoun, the first Thompson insider to face charges in the investigation, pleaded guilty June 20, 2013, to making false campaign contributions and accepting reimbursements for them. He made $160,000 in straw donations – including $76,000 to D.C. campaigns – over the course of 10 years.

Philadelphia businessman Stanley Straughter, who has done consulting work for Thompson, pleaded guilty June 24, 2013, to making $132,600 in political contributions for which he was reimbursed.

In March 2014, Jeffrey Thompson admitted to setting up an illegal $660,000 slush fund that aided Gray's campaign. A few months later, Mark Long pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the District's Office of Campaign Finance by funding and concealing contributions that exceeded those allowed under campaign finance laws. 

Five other people pleaded guilty to offenses directly involving or connected to the 2010 mayoral election.



Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Some Voters Encounter Issues With Early Voting in MD]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 19:36:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014382104_1200x675_666285635655.jpg Early voting started Thursday in Maryland. We're told turnout was good, but some voters had trouble. News4's Chris Gordon reports.]]> <![CDATA[POLL: Maryland Voters Weigh In on Marijuana, Gun Laws]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 18:21:49 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/041316+marijuana+maryland+gun.jpg

A majority of Maryland residents want stricter gun laws and the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, poll results released Wednesday show.

The NBC4/Marist Maryland Poll conducted this month ahead of the April 26 primary surveyed Maryland voters about the presidential candidates, the race for a U.S. Senate seat and a handful of key issues.

Here's where Maryland voters told us they stand on three top issues:

Marijuana: More than two-thirds of Maryland voters included in the poll, 68 percent, included in the poll said they agreed with the change in state law to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Twenty-six percent of voters surveyed said they disagreed, and 6 percent of voters were unsure. There was a 1.9 percentage point margin of error for each of the questions on issues.

Gun Laws: A majority of voters polled, 59 percent, said they wanted laws covering the sale of guns to be more strict. Twenty-four percent of voters said to keep gun laws as they are now, and 14 percent said the laws should be less strict. Just 3 percent of voters were not sure.

Fantasy Sports: Voters were split on whether to make online fantasy sports sites, like FanDuel and DraftKings, legal in Maryland. 43 percent of voters said they would oppose a referendum to make the sites legal. 40 percent of voters said they would support a measure, and 17 percent said they were unsure.

The NBC4/Marist Maryland Poll, conducted April 5 through April 9, surveyed a total of 2,563 registered voters, including 775 likely Democratic primary voters and 368 likely Republican primary voters.



Photo Credit: Getty Images; Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Early & Absentee Voting in Md. Primary: What to Know]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 05:39:50 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/240*120/20160412+Vote+Buttons.jpg

In primary elections, the early bird gets to skip out on long lines at voting stations. 

Early voting for the upcoming Maryland primary begins Thursday, April 14 and continues through April 21 -- but early polling locations differ from election-day voting locations.

And remember, in order to be eligible for early voting, you need to make sure you are a registered, party-affiliated voter. Polls for early voting will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on early voting days.

If you plan on casting a ballot early, here's a list of early voting centers near you:

JUMP TO: Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George's, Saint Mary's, Washington County

In addition, the deadlines for voting by absentee ballot are coming up.

If you plan on casting an absentee ballot, JUMP TO: Absentee Voting


Anne Arundel County: Early Voting Locations

  • Odenton Regional Library (1325 Annapolis Road)
  • Glen Burnie Regional Library in Glen Burnie (1010 Eastway)
  • Severna Park Community Library in Severna Park (45 West McKinsey Road)
  • Annapolis Senior Activity Center in Annapolis (119 S. Villa Ave.)
  • Edgewater Community Library in Edgewater (25 Stepneys Lane)

Calvert County: Early Voting Locations

  • Community Resources Building in Prince Frederick (30 Duke St. – Lower Level)

Charles County: Early Voting Locations

  • La Plata Firehouse in La Plata (911 Washington Ave.)
  • Gleneagles Neighborhood Center in Waldorf (4900 Kirkcaldy Court)

Frederick County: Early Voting Locations

  • Frederick Senior Center in Frederick (1440 Taney Ave.)
  • Thurmont Regional Library in Thurmont (76 E. Moser Road)
  • Urbana Regional Library in Frederick (9020 Amelung St.) 

Montgomery County: Early Voting Locations

  • Germantown Community Recreation Center in Germantown (18905 Kingsview Road)
  • Marilyn J. Praisner Community Recreation Center in Burtonsville (14906 Old Columbia Pike)
  • Executive Office Building Auditorium in Rockville (101 Monroe St.)
  • Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring (1 Veterans Place)
  • Activity Center at Bohrer Park Social Hall in Gaithersburg (506 S. Frederick Ave.)
  • Damascus Community Recreation Center Social Hall in Damascus (25520 Oak Drive)
  • Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center, Social Hall in Chevy Chase (4301 Willow Lane)
  • Mid-County Community Recreation Center Social Hall in Silver Spring (2004 Queensguard Road)
  • Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad in Wheaton (2400 Arcola Ave.)
  • Potomac Community Recreation Center in Potomac (11315 Falls Road)

Prince George's County: Early Voting Locations

  • Upper Marlboro Community Center in Upper Marlboro (5400 Marlboro Race Track Road)
  • College Park Community Center in College Park (5051 Pierce Ave.)
  • Bowie Gymnasium in Bowie (4100 Northview Drive)
  • Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Complex in Landover (8001 Sheriff Road)
  • Baden Community Center in Brandywine (13601 Baden-Westwood Road)
  • Laurel – Beltsville Senior Activity Center in Laurel (7120 Contee Road)
  • Suitland Community Park School Center in Forestville (5600 Regency Lane)
  • Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Complex in Fort Washington (7007 Bock Road)

St. Mary's County: Early Voting Locations

  • Hollywood Firehouse Carnival Bingo Building in Hollywood (24801 Three Notch Road)

Washington County: Early Voting Locations

  • Washington County Early Voting Center, Phoenix Color Building II in Hagerstown (101 Tandy Drive)

Absentee Voting Information

Voters may request absentee ballots by mail, online or by fax.

The deadline to request a mailed or faxed absentee ballot is Tuesday, April 19; the deadline to request an electronic absentee ballot is Friday, April 22.

If a voter misses the above deadlines, but still wants to vote absentee, they or a representative must apply in person at their local board of elections before 8 p.m. on election day. Find more information online here.

More Information

For more information about the upcoming election, visit the Maryland State Board of Elections home page. 

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<![CDATA[POLL: Clinton, Trump Hold Big Leads in Maryland]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 08:08:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/split-clintontrump-april16.jpg

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each hold big leads against their party rivals in the race for the presidency in Maryland, poll results released Tuesday show.

Clinton, the former secretary of state, holds a 22-point lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, according to the NBC4/Marist Maryland Poll conducted this month.

Among the Republican primary electorate polled, Trump holds a 12-point lead against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

“If the front-runners maintain their leads, Trump and Clinton remain on the path to securing their respective party’s nomination,” said Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “With two weeks to go to the Maryland primary, their rivals need to find a way to close the gap.”

Fifty-eight percent of likely Democratic primary voters polled said they would support Clinton. 36 percent said they would vote for Sanders. These results, ahead of the April 26 primary election, have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Trump won 41 percent of likely Republican primary voters. Cruz won 29 percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich won 24 percent and just 6 percent of these voters were undecided. These results have a margin of error of plus or minus 5.1 percentage points.

Clinton polled particularly well with women, African Americans and people age 45 and older. Sanders polled better with people under age 45.

Trump polled well with likely Republican primary voters who do not have a college degree, earn less than $50,000 per year and do not practice a religion. Cruz and Trump were competitive in winning the votes of women and white evangelical Christians. Kasich led among likely Republican primary voters who described themselves as moderate.

A high percentage of Trump supporters said they were committed to their candidate selection. 71 percent of likely Republican primary voters supporting Trump said they were firmly committed to him. 51 percent of Cruz voters said they were committed to him, and 44 percent of Kasich backers said they were committed to him.

Asked who their second choice for Republican presidential candidate would be, 35 percent of likely Republican primary voters polled said Kasich, 34 percent said Cruz and 17 percent said Trump.

Who Could Win the General Election?

Clinton would beat Trump by 36 points in Maryland if the two were matched up in the general election, the results show.

Clinton commanded 63 percent of registered voters in the match-up. Trump won 27 percent, and 10 percent of people were undecided. The match-up results all had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

If Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and businessman Trump went head to head, 65 percent of Maryland voters polled said they would pick Sanders. 26 percent said they would pick Trump.

If Clinton and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz were matched up, 60 percent of Maryland voters polled said they would pick Clinton. 31 percent said they would pick Cruz.

President Obama's and Gov. Hogan's Approval Ratings

Most Maryland residents polled said they supported President Barack Obama and Gov. Larry Hogan. About two-thirds of Maryland residents said they approved of how Hogan was doing his job. 15 percent of people polled said they disapproved, and 18 percent were not sure. 62 percent of residents polled approved of how Obama was doing his job. 32 percent disapproved, and 6 percent were not sure.

The NBC4/Marist Maryland Poll, conducted April 5 through April 9, surveyed a total of 2,563 registered voters, including 775 likely Democratic primary voters and 368 likely Republican primary voters.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Md. 4th District Frontrunners Make Last Push Before Early Voting]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 18:35:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014352405_1200x675_664592451516.jpg Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins talks to cadidates hoping to fill Rep. Donna Edward's open congressional seat.]]> <![CDATA[4 Maryland Races to Watch as Primaries Approach]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 14:27:08 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/donna+edwards.jpg

As races for Maryland House and Senate seats heat up ahead of the April 26 primaries, here are some of the top fights to watch: 

U.S. Senate: Donna Edwards (D), Chris Van Hollen (D) Top Packed Field: Donna Edwards, a congresswoman who represents Maryland’s 4th District, is seeking the open Senate seat along with 8th District congressman Chris Van Hollen. The two candidates faced off March 18 in the first debate of the Maryland Democratic primary to fill the seat held by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D), who is retiring after 30 years in the Senate. The debate was hosted by WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi.

Edwards was elected in 2008, becoming the first African-American woman to represent Maryland in Congress. The lawyer and community activist defeated 15-year incumbent Albert Wynn in the 2008 Democratic primary, and, following his resignation, won a special election to fill the remainder of his term. Her legislative accomplishments include adding Maryland to the Afterschool Suppers Program, which provides meals to youth programs in low-income areas, according to her campaign's site

Van Hollen was elected to Congress in 2002. Prior to his election to the House of Representatives, he served four years in the Maryland House of Delegates and eight years in the Maryland Senate. In addition to representing District 8 and serving in House leadership, Van Hollen was re-elected in 2012 to serve a second term as the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, according to his House of Representative's page. His leadership in Congress has helped obtain funding for investments in infrastructure, biotechnology, education and anti-gang initiatives, according to the page.

Edwards and Van Hollen also have to deal with Democratic challenges from several other candidates: Freddie Donald Dickson Jr., Ralph Jaffe, Teresa C. Scaldaferri, Charles U. Smith, Violet Staley, Blaine Taylor, Ed Tinus and Lih Young.

For the Republicans, Chris Chaffee, Sean P. Connor, Richard J. Douglas, John R. Graziani, Greg Holmes, Joseph David Hooe, Chrys Kefalas, Mark McNicholas, Lynn Richardson, Anthony Seda, Richard Shawver, Kathy Szeliga, Dave Wallace and Garry Thomas Yarrington will try to swing Maryland to the Red side.

8th Congressional District: Nine Democrats, Five Republicans : District 8 is becoming one of the most expensive primary contests for a House seat in the nation. Incumbent Van Hollen will vacate the seat. The 8th Congressional District is fairly Democratic, and although there is a wealth of good candidates, it appears to be a three-way race.

Matthews worked as a reporter for WJLA before she became an executive for Marriott International. Her progressive views fit the mold of much of the district. However, some of Matthews’ opponents are questioning campaign donations from guests of husband Chris Matthews’ MSNBC talk show “Hardball,” The Washington Post reported.

The Maryland Senate’s majority whip, Raskin, is a constitutional law professor at American University and he has played key roles in legalizing same-sex marriage, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and introducing Maryland’s Jane Lawton Farm-to-School program and the Green Maryland Act, according to his campaign page.

Trone is the founder of Total Wine & More with a story of success after humble beginnings, having grown up working on his father’s struggling farm. The Montgomery County businessman gained attention with big spending on campaign advertising and feels his knowledge in politics from his business makes him an able candidate, according to his campaign page.

David M. Anderson, Kumar P. Barve, Dan Bolling, Ana Sol Gutierrez, William Jawando, Jamie Raskin and Joel Rubin are on the ballot on the Democratic side. On the Republican side, Dan Cox, Jeffrey W. Jones, Liz Matory, Aryeh Shudofsky and Shelly Skolnick are running for the congressional seat.

6th Congressional District: Ten Vs. OneEight Republican candidates, one Democratic candidate and one Green Party candidate are vying to challenge incumbent Democrat John Delaney for the District 6 seat. The 6th District, which spans from Potomac and Gaithersburg to Garrett County in western Maryland, was redrawn -- gerrymandered, according to critics -- in 2011 to boost chances of electing a Democrat. About half of the district’s registered voters now live in Montgomery County, Bethesda Magazine reported.

Delaney was elected in 2012 and barely beat out Republican candidate Dan Bongino in his second run, according to Ballotpedia. Prior to serving in the House, Delaney was a successful entrepreneur, having founded two New York Stock Exchange-listed companies before he turned 40, according to his campaign site.

Puca was a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates in 2010. He was a business owner and CEO before becoming a mortgage loan officer, according to his campaign site.

Two Republican candidates are being called standouts because of their expensive campaigns. Amie Hoeber, former Deputy Under Secretary of the Army, has indicated a willingness to pump substantial personal funds into the contest, increasing pressure on opponents to intensify their fundraising and spending. Her focus is on national security and environmental cleanup programs, according to her campaign page.

Conservative State Delegate David Vogt, a veteran Marine and the 2010 Marine of the Year, is also running for the seat. As delegate, Vogt has fought to cut taxes, balance the budget and to uphold the Second Amendment. His legislative work includes the passing of a jobs bill for veterans. Additionally, his campaign has been endorsed by more than 30 conservative leaders from Maryland, according to his campaign page.

Terry Baker, Scott Cheng, Robin Ficker, Frank Howard, Christopher Mason and Harold Painter are also running for the Republican nomination for this House seat. Green Party candidate George Gluck is also seeking the nomination as well.

4th Congressional District: Six Way Race: Incumbent Donna Edwards, who has served District 4 since 2008, will not seek re-election because she is pursuing retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski’s seat in the Senate. This leaves the House seat open in the 4th District, which is comprised of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties.

The race for Edwards’ open seat has drawn six candidates including two Prince George’s County Democrats with strong name recognition: former lieutenant governor Anthony G. Brown and former state’s attorney Glenn Ivey.

Warren Christopher, Matthew Fogg, Joseline Pena-Melnyk and Terence Strait are all vying for the position with Brown and Ivey.

Brown, who was elected to lieutenant governor on a ticket with Martin O’Malley in 2006, unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2014, suffering a defeat to Gov. Larry Hogan. He previously served two four-year terms in the House of Delegates and is currently a colonel in the Army Reserve, according to his campaign page.

Christopher is a retired Lt. Colonel of the U.S. Army and former chief of staff at the Department of the Interior, according to his campaign page.

Fogg was formerly with the U.S. Marshal's Service, retiring as deputy marshal with a distinguished career, according to his campaign page

Ivey, who served as a state’s attorney for Prince George’s County from 2002 to 2010, previously ran for election to the District 4 House seat in 2012 but dropped out before the filing date due to insufficient funding. However, Ivey does not believe he will have trouble raising enough money for a competitive race this time around, The Washington Post reported. As a state’s attorney, He has focused on fighting domestic violence and reducing violent crime, issues he plans to continue giving attention to as a congressman, according to his campaign page.

Pena-Melnyk is the current state delegate representing a district consisting of Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties. She also won the endorsement of The Washington Post editorial board for her "energy, grit and determination." She worked as a lawyer representing abused and neglected kids, according to her campaign page.

Strait received a master's degree in psychology and has served in the U.S. Army, according to his campaign site.

Robert "Bro" Broadus, Rob Buck, George McDermott and David Therrien are running for the Republican nomination.

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<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: A Peek Into the 'Shadows']]> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 05:33:29 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Vincent-Gray-AP_247605509720.jpg

The legal doors slammed shut last December on that infamous “shadow campaign” investigation.

But this week, on Friday, we expect to get a peek inside the probe whose aftermath still roils city politics.

Let’s first set the scene.

Just four months ago — on Dec. 9 — then-new U.S. Attorney for the District Channing Phillips announced that “the admissible evidence is likely insufficient” to charge anyone else in the four-year-old investigation of Vincent Gray’s 2010 campaign for mayor. Phillips shut down the probe.

That was great news for former Mayor Gray. He had lost his 2014 re-election bid and as of December was now clear of potential criminal charges. Gray is trying to restart his political career with a Ward 7 council campaign.

Gray viewed the shutdown as vindication for him, and legally it was. But others note that qualifying phrase “admissible evidence” and still wonder, fairly or not, what Gray knew or did.

Seven people pleaded guilty in the shadow campaign probe. That campaign poured more than $650,000 into Gray’s successful 2010 defeat of then-Mayor Adrian Fenty. Principal among the seven guilty is Jeffrey Thompson. He pleaded guilty to funding the whole effort and in court had implicated Gray.

But Gray was never charged. He denies any knowledge of the shadow campaign or any wrongdoing.

And that brings us to this week.

On Friday, barring any last-minute legal snag, a federal court will unseal dozens of documents related to search warrants carried out during the shadow campaign investigation. It’s all in response to a suit filed by The Washington Post.

The Post successfully argued that results of the search warrants — under seal during the investigation itself — now should be made public, as other warrant results generally are.

“The election investigations had — and continue to have — a profound impact on D.C. politics,” lawyers for The Post wrote. The lawyers contend the public has a limited right to see at least redacted results of the search warrants.

Sources close to Gray said any documents released Friday are unlikely to contain “smoking gun” allegations against Gray. But the sources say there could be new insights into all the campaign cash sloshing around, and who benefited from it. And the sources say there could be embarrassing disclosures about personal behavior.

The Post raises in its 26-page filing the key question that your Notebook has been asking in our speeches, columns and interviews. We’ve asked more than once why Thompson wasn’t considered a credible witness. What is it about Thompson that his word on Gray’s involvement — if any — might be disbelieved by a jury? Lawyers close to the case say it’s unclear whether those questions about Thompson will be answered on Friday, but there could be more hints about it.

Here’s how The Post lawyers put it: “Access to warrant materials may help shed light on a key question of vital public importance that remains unresolved: why the [U.S. Attorney] never brought charges against Mayor Gray, despite sending clear public signals that an indictment was likely forthcoming.”

The Post went on to argue that with the investigation formally concluded, and Gray running for another public office, “the need for greater public understanding [of the shadow campaign investigation] lies in much more than idle curiosity.”

Some of our curiosity may be satisfied on Friday. But your Notebook suggests the disclosures may raise more questions than they answer.

■ Our vacation week. It was stay-at-home, and it mostly was great. But it seemed like a lot happened. In no particular order:

■ The popular DC Circulator bus system was trashed as unsafe in a new audit.

■ The Nationals stumbled through the home opener and then suffered a rainout postponement because it was too cold. Yes, too cold.

■ The Cherry Blossom Festival fireworks also were canceled because of high winds and cold.

■ Bernie Sanders finally made it onto the D.C. June 14 primary ballot after local Democratic Party fumbling and bumbling.

■ The Wizards finally bounced themselves from the NBA playoffs after teasing us all season.

■ The checkbook came out to write the IRS a tax check. No refund this year.

■ We won tickets to “Jersey Boys” at the National Theatre but couldn’t go.

■ The D.C. Council again voted, it seemed for the millionth time, to keep the unusual McMillan Reservoir redevelopment project going with special dispensation.

■ Congress continues to have a bad week, every week. A new McClatchy-Marist poll says public disapproval of congressional Republicans is the highest in two years. While 21 percent of registered voters approve of the Republicans, according to Marist, a whopping 73 percent disapprove. As for registered voters’ views of Democrats in Congress, 36 percent approve and 59 percent disapprove.

Next week, maybe a spring in our step.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[POLL: Van Hollen Holds Lead in Maryland Senate Race]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 22:55:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Edwards+vs+Van+Hollen+V2.jpg

Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen has a six-point edge over Rep. Donna Edwards in the Democratic race for a U.S. Senate seat from Maryland, poll results released Tuesday show.

Van Hollen commanded 44 percent of likely Democratic primary voters reached in a new NBC4/Marist Maryland Poll conducted this month. Edwards won 38 percent of likely voters.

Eighteen percent of voters were undecided in the poll, for which data on likely Democratic primary voters had a 3.5 percentage point margin of error.

Voters for Van Hollen, who has represented Maryland's 8th congressional district since 2003, skew white, male and older than 45, the poll results show. Van Hollen won 62 percent of white likely Democratic primary voters polled; Edwards won 21 percent.

The majority of African-American likely Democratic primary voters polled said they would support Edwards, who has represented Maryland's 4th congressional district since 2008. Of these voters, 59 percent said they would choose Edwards; 22 percent said they would choose Van Hollen.

Of likely Democratic primary voters with a preference for a candidate, 53 percent said they strongly supported their choice of candidate; 31 percent said they "somewhat" support the candidate.

And 14 percent of likely Democratic voters who had chosen a candidate said they might vote differently when it comes time to cast a ballot, indicating some softness in the candidates' support.

The poll also questioned likely Republican primary voters in heavily Democratic Maryland. For the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, Kathy Szeliga won 20 percent. Richard Douglas won 13 percent; Chrys Kefalas, 9 percent; and 57 percent were undecided.

The results on likely Republican primary voters had a 5.1 percentage point margin of error. Of those polled, 28 percent said they "strongly support" their candidate, 36 percent said they "somewhat" support their candidate, and 35 percent said they might vote differently.

The Campaigns Respond

Edwards' and Van Hollen's campaigns each released statements in response to the poll results.

"We're confident that voters will stand with Donna on Election Day because she's championing the values of Maryland's working families and taking on the Washington special interests holding them back," an Edwards' campaign representative said. "In Donna, Marylanders know they have a fighter who will expand Social Security, hold Wall Street banks accountable and work to end the scourge of gun violence plaguing too many of our communities."

A spokeswoman for Van Hollen's campaign said: "Maryland voters are clearly responding to Chris Van Hollen's proven record of getting results and vision for the future. It's unfortunate that Congresswoman Edwards has decided to make false attacks against Chris, which The Washington Post said were designed to mislead voters. It's part of a cynical ploy to cover up her record of ineffectiveness, and Maryland families deserve better."

The NBC4/Marist Maryland Poll, conducted April 5 through April 9, surveyed a total of 2,563 registered voters, including 775 likely Democratic primary voters and 368 likely Republican primary voters.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Noah's Law' Anti-DUI Bill Passes Maryland General Assembly]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 13:11:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Officer-Noah-Leotta.jpg

A proposed drunken driving law passed in the Maryland Senate and House late Monday night. The bill goes to the desk of Gov. Larry Hogan, who has indicated he will sign it into law.

The bill, which requires ignition interlock devices for convicted drunken drivers, is named after Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta, who was struck and killed by a suspected drunken driver. He was 24.

The version of the bill would put ignition interlock devices on the cars of those convicted of driving under the influence. A driver would have to pass a Breathalyzer test before the car would start.

Only repeat drunken drivers and drivers described as having been excessively drunk are currently ordered to use the ignition interlock devices in Maryland.

Hogan voiced his support for the bill as the legislature discussed issue, saying Noah's Law would save a lot of lives.

"We've got a problem with drunken drivers, and we're repeatedly having issues," the governor said. "I think this is something that's really going to help. It's something there is almost unanimous support for on both sides of the aisle."



Photo Credit: Montgomery County Police]]>
<![CDATA[Minimum Wage May Get Hike in Montgomery County]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 11:50:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014343203_1200x675_664135235531.jpg Thousands of workers in Montgomery County could soon get a raise. The county council is introducing a plan Tuesday that would gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. News4's Kristin Wright is live at the Shady Grove Metro Station getting reaction.]]> <![CDATA[Peña-Melnyk, Brown Endorse Edwards for U.S. Senate Seat]]> Mon, 11 Apr 2016 19:24:25 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/donna+edwards.jpg

While U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) said she’s not endorsing any of the candidates running to fill her seat in Congress, two of those candidates seeking her vacant seat are supporting her run for Senate.

Maryland Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk said she will be supporting Edwards in her run to fill current U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s seat. Pena-Melnyk was one of two Prince George’s delegates to support Edwards when she first ran for Congress and said she’s happy to do it again.

“She would do an excellent job,” Peña-Melnyk told News4. “We need to be represented. We need to be at the table. Women, black women, women of color need to be at the table.”

Peña-Melnyk is one of many candidates vying for the 4th District Congressional seat. Edwards released a statement, saying she is proud to have Peña-Melnyk’s support.

"I am proud to have the support of Joseline Peña-Melnyk, a great partner and force for positive change in Annapolis,” said Edwards. “Together, we've worked to expand economic opportunity for women, make the DREAM Act a reality for Maryland, and ensure a more fair and equitable criminal justice system for all Marylanders."

The Washington Post reported a second candidate also endorsed Edwards, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

“From her fierce advocacy on domestic violence issues to defending women’s rights, Donna has been a champion for Maryland women and their families,” Brown said in a statement reported by the Post.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, state Sen. Joanne C. Benson, state Sen. Ulysses Currie and state Sen. Victor R. Ramirez are among those backing Edward’s opponent, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, in the U.S. Senate race in Maryland.

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<![CDATA[Several Bills Passed as General Assembly Nears End of Session]]> Mon, 11 Apr 2016 05:32:19 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Maryland+Flag.jpg

A glance at some of the legislation that has cleared the Maryland General Assembly, as lawmakers near the end of their 90-day session Monday at midnight:

BALTIMORE-AID

The state will provide about $94 million over the next several years to demolish vacant buildings in Baltimore. It's part of a package that includes additional funding to help invest in projects in declining communities and provide grants and loans to ``anchor institutions'' like colleges and universities in blighted areas. The package also includes funds to expand summer programs for students, college scholarships and library hours.

BEES-PESTICIDE PROTECTION

Maryland would become the first state in the country to take pesticides found to harm bees off of retail store shelves, starting in 2018.

BUDGET

With the help of surplus of more than $400 million, Gov. Larry Hogan's $42 billion budget passed smoothly on bipartisan votes. It includes a provision creating a $5 million scholarship program for private school students from low-income families after years of debate over state funding of private-school scholarships.

DIVORCE WITNESS

A witness would no longer be needed to confirm a couple hasn't lived together for a year when someone is seeking an uncontested divorce.

EQUAL PAY

Maryland's equal pay law would be expanded to prohibit businesses from retaliating against employees for discussing or disclosing salaries.

GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTION

A new 40 percent greenhouse gas reduction target has been set for 2030. The governor has already signed the bill.

LAND PRESERVATION

Funding to the state's land preservation program known as Program Open Space will be restored. The law, already signed by the governor, will return $60 million over the next two years.

LAW ENFORCEMENT-BENEFITS

The maximum age of eligibility for state pension benefits for young adult children of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty increases from 18 to 26. The governor already has signed the bill, which was filed in honor of two slain Harford County sheriff's deputies.

PRINCE GEORGE'S HOSPITAL

The state and Prince George's County will be required to provide operating and capital funding for a new Prince George's County Regional Medical Center. The legislation will become law without the signature of Gov. Larry Hogan, who supports the idea but opposes mandated funding over several years.

TRANSPORTATION

Maryland will have a new scoring system to prioritize transportation projects. While the governor won't be prevented from funding a project with a lower score than another, an explanation would be required for the decision. The governor vetoed the bill, but his veto was overridden last week.

UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIP

A partnership between the University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, would be strengthened, creating one University of Maryland with two campuses and two presidents.

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<![CDATA[New Police Union Leader Expects Better Relations With Chief]]> Fri, 08 Apr 2016 20:32:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Chief+Lanier+Meets+With+New+Union+Leadership+IMG_2923.JPG

The new chairman of the D.C. Fraternal Order of Police hopes to improve the union's relationship with the chief.

"New blood; new ideas; a younger, fresher face," is how Jimmy White, a six-year member of the Metropolitan Police Department and newly elected secretary of the police union, describes the union's new leadership.

That "new blood" is headed up by Sgt. Matthew Mahl, who was elected chairman of the union in January by a 2-to-1 margin. Mahl said the union won't be playing politics, and he hopes its relationship with Chief Cathy Lanier will result in more money and a shorter work week for officers.

Mahl took over as chairman of the D.C. Fraternal Order of Police April 1. At union headquarters in Southeast, he told News4 the union will no longer endorse candidates for political office -- a practice that has become routine for police and other unions in the District. 

"As of right now, we're not going to," Mahl said. "I don't think it's the job of the police union to support candidates running for office."

Mahl noted that just after taking over as union chairman, some elected officials pointed out that his union had endorsed their rivals.

"Right now, what we have to do as a police union is rebuild these relationships," Mahl said. "If I support a candidate that doesn’t win, the candidate that I opposed, if they get into office, is less likely to work with me. So the police union will look forward to working with any candidate that gets elected into office."

Mahl said he has yet to meet with Mayor Muriel Bowser, but they have spoken by phone. The previous union leadership did not endorse Bowser or Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. 

Flanked by his vice chairman, Stephen Bigelow, Jr., and Secretary White, Mahl described his relationship with Chief Lanier.

"We have a, we have a relationship which is something that I’m happy to have," Mahl said. "We have conversations. If there's an issue, she will call me. If I have an issue, I can call her. And we do that on almost a daily basis.”

Mahl, who will celebrate 12 years with MPD next week, said he knows the relationship between the union and the chief hasn't been good in the past.

"Over the last several years, eight to nine years, there’s been a largely adversarial relationship between the police union and the department," Mahl said. "That’s something that absolutely has to change.”

His vice chairman agrees.

"We’re starting fresh," Bigelow said. "This is a new group of leaders in the union. We’re going to start fresh and start telling you how great our officers are." 

Bigelow pointed out that repairing relationships between labor and management and labor and elected officials isn’t the only PR work needed.

"We need to do a better job as a union to engage the public, to let them know, you have a treasure in here with these officers and what they’re doing,” Bigelow said. "These officers are all in. They’re not just coming here to get a paycheck. They're working with the community to solve the problems the community is having."

As for Mahl, he knows labor and management won't always agree.

"I know for a fact that we won't always get along," he said. "But there are ways to have your disagreements or have your arguments behind closed doors then face a united front to the public and the agency.”

That would be a change from how Mahl's predecessors interacted with Lanier. Delroy Burton and Kris Baumann, who held the chairman's position over the past several years, were known for openly criticizing Lanier at public hearings and in the press.

"Without the two groups working together, there’s no way we can rebuild the morale in this agency and retain the officers that we have," Mahl said. "We’re in the retirement bubble right now. We’ve known it was coming for years. Every officer we get is an officer we have to keep." 

In fact, Baumann first sounded the alarm about the pending retirement bubble years ago.

There are issues where Mahl and Lanier seem poised to disagree. On the practice of "all hands on deck," where Lanier has canceled vacations and days off to flood the streets with cops, Mahl, like his predecessors, stands opposed.

"The AHODs are something the chief and I have not talked about yet," Mahl said. "It is the union's stance that it does violate our collective bargaining agreement, and we’re moving forward on those cases."

Another point of contention may come when the two sides have to sit down to negotiate a new labor contract. The union represents about 3,500 members, many of whom the union says don’t make enough money to live in the District.

"Priority No. 1 for our members is scheduling and money, so if you want a happy cop, you got to give them better schedules and better money," White said.

In addition to asking for better pay, White said they will ask for a four-day work week. 

"It’s going to be an amalgamation of the stability of the schedule and the possibility of having a four, 10-hour scheduled work week," White said. "Our contract is up in 2017. I would love to just start the negotiations this year, so we don’t have to worry about the issues we had with our last collective bargaining agreement. So we can hammer out those issues that will be a little bit of a tough pill for the department to swallow."

Mahl said he has another priority as chairman. The union has almost 100 grievances pending with the department. Many have been before the Public Employees Relations Board for as long as seven years, Mahl said.

"The police union has to work with the department in getting these cleaned up," Mahl said. "I'm happy to say just in the first week the chief and I have settled five cases already." 

Mahl hopes that working relationship with Lanier will payoff in other negations as well. 

"I hope that with the new relationships that the police union has built with the agency we would be able to settle some of these cases outside of court and come to an amiable agreement when it comes to AHOD and large events like that," Mahl said.

Mahl said having union leadership that gets along with management will actually make the streets safer.

"A higher level of morale within the department," Mahl said. "A happy cop is going to go out there and do his job. An unhappy cop is going to pout and mope around. Happy cops work more and crime can be reduced that way."



Photo Credit: @RiceBillDC]]>