DC mayor resists calls to resign amid campaign scandal

Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:26pm EDT

Washington Mayor Vincent Gray applauds U.S. President Barack Obama as he delivers his third annual back-to-school speech at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, September 28, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Washington Mayor Vincent Gray applauds U.S. President Barack Obama as he delivers his third annual back-to-school speech at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, September 28, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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(Reuters) - Washington Mayor Vincent Gray bristled at suggestions that he was corrupt and resisted calls on Wednesday from three City Council members to resign over a campaign finance scandal from his victorious 2010 race.

The pressure to step down came a day after a former consultant pleaded guilty for her role in helping to hide and spend some $650,000 in undisclosed funds on campaign expenses.

The revelation marked another difficult day for capital city politics. In recent months, two city council members have pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to their public service.

City Council members David Catania, Mary Cheh and Muriel Bowser said the 2010 scandal had compromised the legitimacy of Gray's office.

"Whether or not he knew of the massive election fraud that was taking place in his name, he is responsible for it," Cheh said in a statement.

"He should step down immediately for the good of the district and its residents," Catania said.

Gray was asked about the case at a news conference on Wednesday. "This is not the campaign that we intended to run," Gray told reporters at a news conference.

But he drew a sharp distinction between his campaign and governing, saying his administration was not corrupt.

He also bristled when asked whether he was corrupt.

"There are lots of people who probably will have that question. I know who I am. I get up in the morning every day and look in the mirror and I see somebody I respect," Gray said.

He said he had no plans to resign, according to various media reports.

In June, Kwame Brown, the former City Council chairman and No. 2 official in Washington's city government, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and violating campaign finance laws by allowing a family member to make illegal cash expenditures from his 2008 campaign account.

Before that, Councilman Harry Thomas pleaded guilty to stealing city funds.

Federal authorities continue to investigate aspects of the mayoral race.

(Additional reporting by John Crawley; editing by Todd Eastham)

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