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Fenty campaign: Gray supporters lure voters with gift cards

Eli Reyes

UPDATED 9/13, 11:55 A.M.

On the last day of early voting in District neighborhoods, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's campaign accused supporters of D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray of attempting to lure voters to a polling site with supermarket gift cards.

Last night, a Fenty supporter uploaded a video to YouTube that shows an unidentified woman with a camera talking to another woman in a parking lot about how to obtain the Giant gift card.

In the shaky video, one woman tells the woman with the hidden camera she has to "get on the van" if she wants a $10 gift card.

"We are going to buy you lunch," the one woman says. "If you get in our van, and go vote, if you get back on, I will be right here."

The woman asking about the gift card then asks, "Who do I got to vote for, Gray?"

"No, we are non-partisan, you can vote for whoever ... you can vote for yourself," the other states.

Later, the woman with the camera asks a man, "Is that the Gray van?" "Yes, ma'am," she's told.

A Board of Elections and Ethics official said Saturday night the board is aware of the allegation and is forwarding information to the U.S. attorney's office. Under federal law, someone convicted of paying or accepting payment for registering to vote or voting can be fined as much as $10,000 or imprisoned for as long as five years. But elected officials have said it's longstanding practice for campaigns to provide some voters with free meals to encourage turnout.

Since midweek, Fenty has been battling allegations that a supporter offered young adults $100-a-day jobs to vote for the mayor. Gray has called for a federal investigation into the allegations, first reported by WJLA-TV Channel 7.

In the video, there is no documentation that any gift cards were ever exchanged and no footage of a van. The video, uploaded by Fenty campaign adviser Ronald Moten, ends with the woman with the camera getting climbing back into a car stating, "We got 'em."

Mo Elleithee, a senior strategist for the Gray campaign, said the video "speaks for itself."
"I think Ronald Moten and the Fenty campaign are showing how desperate they are at this point," Elleithee said. "Perhaps, if they put half as much effort into finding who in their organization has been buying votes, as they are into manufacturing videos about others, then maybe, maybe they would have a little bit of credibility and integrity left."

The Fenty campaign deferred comment to a campaign lawyer, who was not immediately available for comment.

In a second video three men -- shot from the back as they ride in a vehicle -- are heard discussing a $10 gift card after they vote. One of the men asks whether he can get the card before voting, but he's denied.

One of the men, presumably the driver, explains that "you vote whoever you like to vote for" and explains that they are not trying to pay people to vote.

On the ride to the purported polling place the men discuss the controversial recreation contracts awarded to firms connected to friends of the mayor and the need for jobs in the area. Although they mentioned both Gray and Fenty by name, it's unclear whether representatives of either campaign is in the vehicle.

The image is lost as the men get out the vehicle, but the sound continues, capturing two men talking to a woman who explains what her group does.

"We're just a team that just goes out anybody who wants to vote we don't tell them who to vote for or anything like that," she said. "We just get them rides to get them to the polls and take them back. That's all it is."

"How long does it take to go here and vote?" one of the men is heard asking.

The woman responds, "I don't know, because I don't vote."

UPDATE, 9/13, 11:55 A.M.: The Fenty supporters removed their original video from YouTube and have posted an edited version, which has been embedded above. The longer video has also been edited down and annotated and posted to YouTube.

-- Tim Craig, Mike DeBonis

By Eli Reyes  |  September 11, 2010; 9:55 PM ET
Categories:  2010 District Election  
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Next: Fenty completes Nation's Triathlon

Comments

The fact that Ron Moten uploaded this video speaks volumes. This is yet another manufactured act of desperation by Fenty to win. He gets more pathetic by the day. He could have saved what little integrity he had left by running a clean campaign the last few weeks but he keeps sinking lower and lower. He, like his chancellor Michelle Rhee, is his own worst enemy.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | September 11, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Ah yea, shaky hidden camera vid of gift cards. Wow, Fenty really has some serious pros running his operation. Nice work.

Posted by: frankpoon | September 11, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Fenty's camp is an updated version of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," starring: Moten as McMurphy (the con) ; Rhee ( the manipulating nurse) and Fenty as Charlie (the brat).

Posted by: GoldCoast | September 12, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Let's see if the Post puts this on the front page of tomorrows paper. Really. This should be investigated, but only after investigating allegations involving the Fenty campaign prior to today, the mayor's contracts, peacoholics, etc. It's gonna take a while. (Ron Moten could hurry this along by filing 2009 taxes for the peacoholics...)

Posted by: mjvdc | September 12, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

What I didn't see in this video is any allegation that Gray's campaign paid anyone to vote for him. Next time the compensated Fenty operatives script their comments, they might want to add that. Pay to play and sanctioning corrupt election practices is Fenty policy, not Gray's.

It was Fenty who vetoed the corrupt election practices bill with the support of Moten (when Moten compared the Mayor to Jesus). http://tinyurl.com/28l6bjb

Posted by: brelevant | September 12, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

To access the comments section of the front page article on Fenty and Gray, cut and paste: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/11/AR2010091105085_Comments.html

To access the comments on today’s pro-Fenty editorial, cut and paste:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/11/AR2010091104226_Comments.html

You can also get to the comments by clicking on the “print” option for each article, then scrolling to the end, where you’ll see the comments option. That’s how I did it.

Posted by: efavorite | September 12, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Why is the title Gray Supporters lure voters with gift cards?? From the article I dont see anything that would show that at all. However, the woman is kind of cute, where is this voting van?

Posted by: AJordanMBA | September 12, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Do you mean to tell me that Ron Moten, the 10 million dollar man, producer of videos... editor of newpaper... and THIS was the best he could come up with? Someone giving lunch to a person if they go to the polls to vote FOR ANYONE, IT DOESNT MATTER WHO... they just want you to VOTE!

Ron needs to study this video. That is exactly what HE as a leader of young black men should be doing. Instead, hes telling them that if they support someone OTHER THAN FENTY...he dont want nothing to do with them. SOME LEADER!!!

And this is the man Fenty thinks we should let have access to our kids. Unbelievable!

Posted by: tformation1 | September 12, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

LMAO. Is this a Tyler Perry trailer? You have got to be joking! Who is the main character, Madeira?? "I got em" LMAO!

Please keep it coming, this is funny!

Posted by: dropem95 | September 12, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

@dropem95 -- how did you read my mind? All I could do was ROLFLMAO! Tyler Perry is in no danger from these absolute amateurs.

Frankly, you would have to stand on your head while the video plays -- and that is the only way anyone can follow it.

TWP should be ashamed for even posting such gutter trash. Just like last week, when TWP posted that Big G would be holding a press conference to blame the Gray campaign for his suspension. More yellow journalism. Let's brace ourselves, they will become more ridiculous as we get closer to Election Day.

Please forgive any typos in this post, I am just laughing too hard!

Posted by: sheridaw | September 12, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Is the creation and posting of this obvious bull legal. Can the Gray campaign sue.

Posted by: guylady201001 | September 12, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

@dropem95 and @sheridaw -- I second your emotions -- LMAO!!!

Posted by: jemac777 | September 12, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

In another article posted today, the Post is showing a video posted by Gray featuring clips from Fenty/Moten/Big G recent press conference.

I just watched the video again and at 4:09 into the video, you see the lady wearing the Fenty cap.

At 07:00 seconds into the sting video uploaded by Moten, you will see someone who looks to be the same lady. I believe she is wearing the same dress. She is the one asking about the gift card.

Please check this out for yourself.

Posted by: guylady201001 | September 12, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

We are witnessing the last vestige of any credibility that the Washington Post has ever had.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | September 12, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Hi all,

The video has been removed from YouTube.

Posted by: guylady201001 | September 12, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

guylady201001,

OMG, I think you exposed them! I watched the video and it looks like the same women.

Also, according to the disclaimer on the video, "pissed-off" dc residents created and posted the video, not Gray.

Posted by: dcnatives | September 13, 2010 12:37 AM | Report abuse

"Gray supporters lure voters with gift cards"

"No, we are non-partisan"

Doesn't that pretty much just sum this up? Fenty propaganda with no basis in fact, and the Post is happy to back up the lies with a BS headline.

Why don't you just run a story on Election day called "Gray implicated in $1M scandal" and then run a story about puppies?

Posted by: jamietre | September 13, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

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