D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has hired a big-name lawyer to fight allegations he paid a candidate to attack then-Mayor Adrian Fenty on the campaign trail, and the controversy appears to be overshadowing the mayor's official schedule.
The mayor was on the Southwest Waterfront Thursday, where cheers and confetti greeted news that the 90-year-old will anchor part of the $2.5 billion redevelopment and help train D.C. citizens for jobs. But while Gray tried to focus on jobs, reporters pressed him about why he hired prominent attorney Bob Bennett as his personal lawyer as the U.S. Attorney's Office looks into the campaign allegations of payments to former minor mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown.
"I will have to pay for this and it will be done directly out of my pocket," Gray said. "The reason why I did this is because I want to stay focused on the city's business. I called for the investigation. I hope that it moves very quickly."
Gray has denied any wrongdoing and has promised to cooperate.
Brown, who got a job with the city paying $110,000 a year but was quickly fired, alleges Gray reneged on a promise to hire him. The FBI questioned Brown on Wednesday.
"The U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI are aware of allegations, including information appearing in the media, involving the 2010 mayoral race in the District of Columbia," read a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office. "The U.S. Attorney's Office takes these concerns serious and is working with the FBI to assess the matter.''
With complaints about the campaign, expensive hiring for Gray's mayoral staff and other missteps, some insiders are urging the mayor to shake-up his staff to help get him back on track.