D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray flatly denied ever handling cash or money orders during his campaign for mayor last year.
Unexplained cash and money orders worth tens of thousands of dollars are the focus of a federal investigation into Gray's campaign.
The mayor's very career in office could depend on the outcome of this probe, and he insists he did nothing wrong.
Gray ran a short, hectic campaign for mayor in 2010, surprising many when his very first finance report in June 2010 showed more than $550,000 in contributions, including unusual money orders for cash and many maximum donations of $2,000 from cities all around the country. Sources tell News4 that even members of Gray's own finance committee were surprised at the last-minute cash infusion in June.
Federal authorities last week raided the home and offices of local businessman Jeff Thompson, who was a major fundraiser for Gray. Sources said prosecutors are looking at the amount and source of contributions Thompson handled.
On Wednesday, Mayor Gray said he personally had done some fundraising, but he flatly denied that he had ever handled cash or money orders.
“I asked Mr. Thompson to support my campaign,” Gray said. “I never, I never had any money orders. I never had any cash. Those things I actually, directly brought in, they were checks.”
Thompson this week did not respond to News4 seeking comment.
The mayor told reporters Wednesday he was not aware of anyone in his campaign converting cash to money orders or faking names of donors to cover up excess contributions.
Gray said he supports the federal investigation, suggesting anyone with information could testify.
“If people are asked or wish to stand up and contribute information they're perfectly welcome to,” Gray said.
Sulaimon Brown's initial charge of secretly being paid in Gray campaign money orders to pester ex-Mayor Adrian Fenty on the campaign trail set off the wider federal probe. Brown was in court Wednesday, getting a suspended sentence and court costs on a traffic charge.
Prosecutors have declined to comment on the federal probe.