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Gray again distances himself from a campaign volunteer

For the second time this week, Vincent C. Gray is being forced to distance himself from the actions of one of his campaign volunteers, raising questions about whether his extensive campaign network will help or hurt him on Election Day.

On Monday, Gray spokeswoman Traci Hughes blamed an "overly zealous" campaign staffer for "an unauthorized" mass email asking former city employees fired by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to contact the Gray campaign.

A day later, in response to a complaint from the D.C. Republican Committee, Hughes was confronted with questions about why Gray ads in the Hill Rag newspaper failed to include the required "paid for by" disclaimer. A flyer for a Gray fundraiser was also circulated without the disclaimer.

The local GOP filed a complaint with the Office of Campaign Finance, accusing Gray of violating local election law.

In a statement issued Tuesday night, Hughes said the "ads and flyer were produced and paid for by a campaign volunteer as an in-kind contribution to the campaign."

'The ads and flyer should have contained a paid by disclaimer," Hughes said. "We have taken corrective action so it does not happen again."

Such mishaps are fairly routine for a political campaign, but taken together they reflect the challenge Gray faces in organizing his big-tent operation.

With the Gray effort largely made up of volunteers, union leaders, and local neighborhood and Democratic activists, some of whom at times appear to be free-lancing. Campaign leaders appear to be struggling to provide adequate oversight.

Fenty, in comparison, relies on a network of paid staffers who usually operate within a more disciplined campaign structure.

The big unknown is which strategy will be more effective when it comes to turning out the vote. While Fenty may have the advantage when it comes to deploying his staff resources to target specific groups of voters, Gray may be able to claim his volunteers are more committed to the ultimate goal.

Still, both Fenty and Gray will likely face continued challenges in keeping their staffers and supporters away from controversy during the final month of the campaign.

In July, a Fenty canvasser was charged with selling crack, which prompted his quick dismissal from the campaign. Some residents have also accused some of Fenty paid canvassers of being rude when they show up at the door.

Fenty also appears to be giving Peaceoholics co-founder Ronald Moten free rein to act as a surrogate and strategist.

Moten, also an upstart journalist, has mass-produced a magazine that attacks Gray's record. According to an account in the City Paper, TheothersideMagazine also includes creative cartoons depicting Gray as a vampire.

But Moten said he's not being paid by the Fenty campaign so he does not have to disclose his work in support of the mayor.

"It's my magazine," Moten said. "I'm not being being paid, so what's the difference between me and DC Watch and me and the Washington Post or Washington Examiner?"

--Tim Craig

By Tim Craig  |  August 11, 2010; 11:05 AM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig , Vincent C. Gray , vincent gray  
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Comments

How are cartoons depicting Gray as a vampire considered creative? The man looks like a vampire, pure and simple. It's no stretch to see that. Has anyone ever seen him out in daylight?

Posted by: blankspace | August 11, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

So where does Gray stand on homerule? Is he for or against representation for DC? If he supports a vote for DC citizens, he should leave the Republican party forthwith. CB

Posted by: chrisbrown12 | August 11, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

The best campaign ad for Vince Gray is the fact that the Republicans are supporting Fenty. What an easy choice.

Posted by: PepperDr | August 11, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

The headlines on these things very rarely match the substance of the article.

I would rather have an army of volunteers than a bunch of crazy staffers who sell drugs in the parking lot.

Posted by: CultureClub | August 11, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

FENTY HAS TO GO, AT THIS POINT ANYONE COULD RUN FOR THE MAJOR'S SEAT IN DC AND WIN...HIM AND HIS NEW JACK DC CREW!! RATHER HAVE A VIMPIRE THEN A SNAKE ANY DAY!!!

Posted by: shadon1 | August 11, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

If the ads are produced and paid for by someone else -- a supporter -- then the campaign can't be held responsible for the lack of a disclaimer on them.

Actually, it is the publication's responsibilty to assure that the ad has the proper disclaimer before it is run, and the account executive at the publication can assist the customer with those technical compliance details.

Posted by: blasmaic | August 11, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Amen, PepperDr

The Post is really getting desperate.

Posted by: bnew100 | August 11, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

If Gray can't even run a campaign, how can he run a city?

And nowhere in the article does it say that republicans are supporting Fenty. But I guess if you are supporting a person with no plan you get to make up what ever you want.

Posted by: nmoses | August 11, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

really. a disclaimer. I thought it was a stumble like a campaign worker selling drugs or sex.....

do better

Posted by: mamaspearl | August 11, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

what a waste of ink on paper...really, can we stick to the issues and report on something with teeth: (i.e. Fenty should count down the days; or Fenty is so under water with this re-election bid, that the only thing that is visible above the water is his nose and chin...plain and simple, someone needs to throw him a lifesaver because the fat lady is at least warming up behind the curtain)

Posted by: theyhateme | August 11, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Let's agree for the purposes of discussion that Gray needs to distance himself from a couple of overzealous campaign volunteers.

Then we must also agree that Fenty needs to distance himself, not only from many of his campaign workers (Ron Moten, the folks who brazenly replace Gray signs with Fenty signs, the thugs who intimidate citizens at Ward Forums, etc.), but from his frat brother buddies, contract cronies, and most of his agency heads (starting with his Consigliere, "Wooden" Nickles).

Which is the more serious problem??

Posted by: nan_lynn | August 11, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

to nmoses: "And nowhere in the article does it say that republicans are supporting Fenty".

It may not say it in this article, but the Republicans have gone on record stating they support Fenty because Fenty supports Rhee. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Previous statements were made in the Wash Post. read it and weep.

Posted by: wkitout | August 12, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

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