WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - Former D.C. mayor Vincent Gray is speaking publicly for the first time since a nearly five-year federal investigation of him ended last Wednesday with no charges filed.
It was a victory for the longtime public servant who maintained he was unaware his aides were breaking the law to help get him elected.
In his first television interview since the announcement, Gray told FOX 5’s Matt Ackland he is “doing absolutely fine” and “feeling even better now.”
“I’ve spent my entire life in service to the city,” Gray said. “It was so inconsistent with who I am to think that I would do something like that.”
The long-running probe exposed an illegal, $660,000 slush fund set up by an influential Washington businessman to help Gray defeat then-mayor Adrian Fenty in 2010. The businessman and five others pleaded guilty to felonies. But federal prosecutors couldn't establish that Gray committed a crime or knowingly conspired with his advisers.
“I’ve said from the very beginning that I did nothing,” Gray said. “It’s regrettable that things were done, and I wish it hadn’t happened.”
The investigation started shortly after Gray took office in 2011 and came to define his only term. It was a major factor in his loss to Muriel Bowser in last year's Democratic primary. Three weeks before the primary, prosecutors said in court that Gray knew about the illicit funds pouring into his campaign, a move that Gray's supporters called unethical meddling in an election.
The slush fund, which prosecutors called a "shadow campaign," helped bridge the fundraising gap between Gray, who raised $1.7 million ahead of the 2010 Democratic primary, and Fenty, who raised $4.9 million. Gray's victory was fueled in part by high turnout and huge margins in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, where the shadow campaign was based. Then-U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen suggested that Gray's victory was tainted, although pollsters said Gray almost certainly would have won without the shadow campaign.
Gray told FOX 5 that he believes Machen, who stepped down in March, owes him an apology.
“That press conference that he conducted -- one week before early voting started – really undid our campaign,” Gray said.
Machen said in a statement that the case was about more than Gray and the timing would have been criticized regardless.
Gray also said some unnamed members of the media were “grossly unfair.”
With the prospect of federal charges no longer looming, Gray, 73, could mount a political comeback. He said he is considering a bid for the D.C. Council.
“I haven’t made any decisions yet,” Gray said. “If there’s a possibility of an at-large position on the council, there’s the possibility of the Ward 7 seat, and of course, there’s the possibility of nothing.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.