On an almost daily basis the Washington Post is cutting down Mayor Vincent Gray, as it bolsters its candidate, Councilmember Muriel Bowser. The latest polls show the Post’s efforts are having an effect, with Bowser and Gray now neck-and-neck.
In the Post’s ideal world, it wouldn’t have come to this. The paper had hoped to get rid of Gray before any ballots were cast, since elections are risky. That’s particularly true for the Post, which has to contend with D.C.’s African American voters who have a habit of rebuking the paper, as they did in the last mayoral election.
It was just three-and-a-half years ago when then-Council Chairman Gray squared off against the better-funded incumbent, Mayor Adrian Fenty. Despite the Post’s vigorous campaigning, which bled from its editorials into its news coverage, Gray won easily.
The Post would have you believe Gray’s victory was due to a shadow campaign. This narrative, in addition to being inaccurate, conveniently allows the Post to avoid facing up to the fact that African Americans once again used their votes to repudiate the paper.
Instead of accepting the will of the electorate, the Post sought revenge. For the past three years the paper has all but begged U.S. Attorney Ron Machen to charge Gray over the 2010 shadow campaign. The Post was confident that a Gray indictment would mean game-over for its nemesis.
But Machen, sensing he’s unlikely to secure a conviction, hasn’t brought charges against the mayor. That’s not to say Machen has been sitting on the sidelines. Far from it. In periodic press conferences, including one held just days before early voting began, Machen has tarnished Gray, in violation of both the D.C. and American Bar Associations’ ethics rules.
It’s gotten so personal with the Post that earlier this month when Gray defended himself against Machen’s latest smears, the Post accused the mayor of race-baiting. This is an extraordinary charge, particularly when considering that it was a young Vince Gray, while a student at George Washington University, who integrated an all-white, Jewish fraternity, and then went on to become its president.
The Post treats its friends well
While the Post pursues Gray at all costs, the paper is ignoring the potential corruption of another mayoral candidate.
In addition to being a friend of the Post’s, Jack Evans is the longest serving councilmember and chair of the powerful finance and revenue committee. In that capacity, Evans shepherded through $272 million in public funds for the Convention Center hotel, which will be owned and operated by Marriott.
After spending years putting the deal together, Evans recused himself from voting on it at the eleventh hour. He said he did so only out of an “abundance of caution,” but that turned out to be inaccurate. In addition to his $125,000 council salary, Evans earns $190,000 a year from the powerhouse lobbying firm Patton Boggs. One of the partners in the hotel deal is ING, which was a client of Patton Boggs’ at the time.
This is a stunning conflict of interest involving huge sums of public money, yet the Post and U.S. Attorney have looked the other way. One can only imagine how their response would differ if Gray was involved.