At the State of the District address, Mayor Vincent C. Gray opened his speech with a vilifying description of convicted shadow campaign financer Jeffrey Thompson. The mayor also boldly proclaimed his own innocence in the 2010 campaign finance scandal.
“Federal authorities, have conducted a wide ranging investigation into years of campaign and election fraud, brought a man to justice yesterday,” Gray said referring to Thompson Tuesday evening. “That man sought to illegally subvert the election of President Barack Obama, and illegally pumped money into 28 District and federal campaigns and elections over the past decade. Federal investigators are now using this man’s words to suggest that I broke the law.”
Although Mayor Gray has not been formally accused of any crimes, 58-year-old Thompson pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy – one federal, one local – for attempting to circumvent campaign finance laws and named Mayor Gray as the financial mastermind behind a $400,000 shadow campaign. Over the past two years, several others connected to either, Thompson or to Gray’s campaign have pleaded guilty, but at Kelly Miller Middle School, Gray maintained his record is unblemished. “I say this to all of you now, clearly and unequivocally: I didn’t break the law.”
Gray continued in an hour and a half long speech featuring a laundry list of the city’s accomplishments as well as announcements of several new proposals and initiatives.
“From Day 1, we’ve moved aggressively to create jobs and address unemployment,” said Gray. “And our finances are now in such good shape that even during the federal government shutdown, when we were officially barred from spending our own Fiscal Year 2014 funds, we had enough money in a special contingency fund that we didn’t have to shut down the District government!” Gray was met with resounding applause and chants of “four more years” from supporters in the auditorium.
Among the new initiatives the mayor announced:
- A $116 million investment in public education to implement the next phase of D.C. school reform.
- An upcoming legislation proposal that will establish up to six weeks of paid parental leave for District government employees.
- An additional $100 million investment to preserve and build 10,000 units of affordable housing by 2020.
- A new housing campaign “500 Families in 100 days” in which the administration will partner with the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness and the Transitional Housing Corporation to house 500 homeless families.
- A new faith-based program “One Congregation, One Family,” where a congregation will take on the responsibility of supporting a family through hardship.
- Nine career and technical academies to operate out of DCPS and charter high schools and help outgoing students compete for jobs.
- The establishment of the One City Business Portal to streamline permits and licensing and help entrepreneurs navigate starting a new business