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Could Scandals Hurt DC on Capitol Hill?

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Members of the DC Council gathered today to talk about the city's budget. Several also addressed the ongoing controversy and investigations currently under way.

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Some D.C. leaders are worried that the city's efforts on Capitol Hill could be hindered by the ongoing criminal investigations into the political campaigns of Mayor Vincent Gray and Council Chairman Kwame Brown, which have been going on for months and could be big embarrassments for the city.

Since last summer, federal investigators have been looking into the campaign spending for Brown's 2008 at-large council race. Last June, the D.C. Ethics Office referred the 2008 spending to federal authorities for possible criminal violations after an audit showed potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars improperly accounted for by the campaign.

Brown told News4 Monday that he has no knowledge of the status of the federal probe or whether a grand jury is reviewing any evidence.

Gray also is under a criminal probe by the U.S. Attorney's Office. That investigation initially focused on allegations by minor mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown that he was given cash and later a city job for his criticism of then-Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Sources have told News4 the Gray investigation has moved well beyond Sulaimon Brown into other Gray campaign spending and activities.

Mayor Gray said he hopes that the investigations don't distract from his effort to be free of congressional oversight.

But D.C. Council Finance Committee Chairman Jack Evans said any new developments in the criminal probes court hurt the city on Capitol Hill, fairly or not.

The city already has been embarrassed by the felony conviction of Harry Thomas Jr., who will be sentenced May 3.

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