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Fenty debuts negative ads, targets Gray's DHS record

As widely anticipated, Mayor Adrian Fenty's re-election campaign is debuting a pair of television ads taking direct aim at challenger Vincent Gray.

Both ads begin with a Gray quote taken from a July 15 WPFW-FM radio debate: "I put my record up against his on any day."

What comes next should surprise no one familiar with Fenty's campaign-trail rhetoric -- a trip back to the 1990s.

"Okay, Mr. Gray," says a female narrator over ominous music. "As director of the Department of Human Services in the early '90s you were responsible for over $1 billion dollars, but your daily mismanagement and your department's incompetence pushed the city to the brink of bankruptcy." A photo of Gray fades into black-and-white as Washington Post headlines are flashed across the screen. "We can't afford to go back to those bad old days," the voice says before the music brightens and pictures of Fenty smiling hit the screen. Fenty's recent Post endorsement is prominently featured.

Another ad is similar: "With a record number of D.C. children sleeping on the streets, you turned down million of federal funds to give them shelter," the narrator says, citing Washington Post accounts.

The 30-second ads are the first time in Fenty's political career that he's had to resort to attacking an opponent's record.

Gray strategist Mo Elleithee responds in a statement: "After spending nearly three million dollars on his campaign so far, Adrian Fenty has nothing to show for it. So he does what most politicians do when they find themselves struggling -- run negative ads. ... Maybe if he spent less time on attack ads, and more time producing a plan or vision for the future -- which he has yet to do -- his campaign wouldn't be struggling."

Negative ads were no elixir for Linda Cropp in 2006, who sent out mailers in 2006 highlighting an incident where Fenty was disciplined by bar authorities for mismanaging an elderly man's estate. Cropp's campaign had been floundering beforehand, and Fenty cruised to a sweeping primary victory anyway.

"We're really trying to highlight the contrast between the two candidates," says Fenty campaign spokesman Sean Madigan. Like the 15-second ads he's already run, he says, Fenty's new ads will start running Thursday on a variety of cable and broadcast outlets.

According to a campaign finance report filed late Tuesday night, Fenty has spent more than $1 million on advertising in the past two months, paying Minnesota-based North Woods Advertising more then $180,000 to produce a series of ads. North Woods produced the new spots as well.

By Mike DeBonis  |  August 11, 2010; 5:00 PM ET
Categories:  Adrian Fenty , DCision 2010 , The District , Vincent Gray  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Fenty pledges to 'change some things' in TV debate
Next: Gray responds to Fenty TV attacks with radio spot


How progressive can Mayor Fenty be if he is stepping back to 1995 to hold Mr. Gray accountable for an ENTIRE CITY going into receivership. Mr. Gray inherited the fiscal nightmare that was DHS. He should be commended for creating the Department of Healthcare Finance and closing Forest Haven. Mr. Gray has always been forward thinking and fiscally sound in his judgments with respect to the Districts money. Very much like I will "not" blame President Obama for "inheriting" the fiscal nightmare that is this economy, why would I blame Mr. Gray for "inheriting" the nightmare that was DHS.
Now if we are going to starting looking at the public service records of these two gentleman then here are the facts surrounding Mr. Fenty that I consider a test of his character, integrity and leadership or the lack thereof.
Mr. Fenty's 8/31/2005 admonition from the DC Bar Counsel when Mr. Fenty was found to have violated Rule 1.1, 1.3(a), Rule 8.4(d), Rule 1.16(d); a ruling by Superior Court Judge Jose Lopez who issued the order referring to the case of Mr. Williams Hardy.
Mr. Fenty was appointed general guardian and conservator over William Hardy Sr.; Mr. Hardy had a credit union account where his retirement benefits were deposited. Various "unknown people" made numerous withdrawals from the account; a total of $22, 500 dollars was taken from the account.
Mr. Hardy later received $15,000 from Mr. Fenty, however, 1/3 of the money came from Mr. Hardy’s own account because Mr. Fenty said he "found" the money.
Now, I could draw many conclusions for this about Mr. Fenty's character and integrity except he has proven the limited depth of both by his actions while in office, this case is just the start of his corrupt behavior and is culminated by late night checks cut to Frat brothers, and settlements to same frat brothers made by the DC Attorney General on Mr. Fenty's behalf. So, excuse me if I take Ms. Pratt's words as proof of Mr. Gray's integrity, leadership and character and Mr. Fenty's own actions as proof of his lack of integrity, leadership and character.
The biggest issue for me is employment of District residents, and Mr. Gray is the only candidate with a jobs plan.
Financial solvency is also a main concern and Mr. Gray has managed the District’s budget much against the whims of Mr. Fenty and if it were NOT for Mr. Gray’s oversight and scrutiny, then yes, we would be headed back into receivership. If we don't manage our financial resources well, we will be going back to the broke years.

Posted by: lacairaine | August 11, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Jobs! Gray's task force will figure out how to end this recession and replace jobs that don't exist anymore.

Thats change I can believe!

Posted by: politicalrealist | August 11, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

As long as Ron Moten is a spokesman for Fenty, I'll be voting for Gray.

Posted by: BrentwoodGuy | August 11, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

This ad comes from Fenty who squandered DC's rainy day fund and almost caused us to lose our bond rating? Seriously?

Talk about hypocrisy!

Posted by: DCResident3 | August 11, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse


Why isn't Gray's record as a DC department head relevant?

He said he would put his record up against fenty's anyday. Well...Put up.

And, there is a big difference between this add and Linda Cropps.

Cropps ads (like your note) implyed that Fenty was a liar and untrustworthy. That is an attack ad.

Fenty is saying that Gray did not produce on the job. That is challenging Gray's work performance. That is relevant information. Especially when Gray sticks his chest out and yells "I'll put my record up against yours anyday." Gray implies that Gray he has a superior work performance to Fenty (as laughable as that is).

Why does Gray get a free pass on that? And, I am sure that Fenty would love to sit by and ignore Gray. But, this is an election. It doesn't work that way.

Posted by: politicalrealist | August 11, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

politicalrealist...I DID NOT support Linda Cropp when she did her negative add against Mr. Fenty, in fact it made me support him MORE!!!

The DHS era was NOT of Mr. Gray's doing it was an agency in shambles when he became the agency head and headed to the facts because those ARE the facts...blaiming an individual who inherits a MESS is ridiculous.

Mr. Fenty inherited a surplus and now it is in shambles but no one on his team wants to make him responsible for that. You cannot have it both ways.

Posted by: lacairaine | August 11, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Ummm, well there are not many jurisdictions running a surplus these days are there? DOH! There's this whole "national economy" thing that local officials don't really control, regardless of who you might like in this race.

Posted by: jeffcoud2 | August 12, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Well, Well, Well, just when an overwhelming majority of D.C. residents are accusing its mayor of being arrogant, mean, dismissive, too negative, feeling so far above them, and continuously concentrating on the smaller things, such as his friends and his tickets--here comes this ad! Need we say more. Through his ad, he is demonstrating what many have already said.

Why doesnt he take some of the money that he is using for negative ads and use it for the sleeping, hungry children that are STILL in the streets. There are probably more or just as many MORE now than there were in the 90's.

Posted by: ILoveDC2 | August 12, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Well Mr. Mayor stand by your record on school reform. After three years, more schools are in need of improvement than they were three years ago. It is understandable why test score decline in 2010, because more schools were being watched for cheating. Furthermore, by putting your children in an out of boundary school was evident that you did not trust your own rhetoric.

Posted by: oscar6 | August 12, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Mayor, stand by your record on school reform. This year, more schools are in need of improvement than ever before. This year, schools were being watched for cheating and the results were lower test scores. Even the out of boundary school your children attend, did not make AYP. So were is the success?

Posted by: oscar6 | August 12, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

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