WASHINGTON -- Businessman Jeffrey Thompson says he paid for a secret, off-the- books "shadow campaign" to help get D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray elected in 2010, and that Gray knew about it.
But the mayor says Thompson is lying.
Outside a mayoral candidates forum held at Bruce Monroe Elementary School in Northwest on Monday night, Gray responded to Thompson's court admissions between chants by supporters of "Four More Years!"
"I have said that there is no truth to what was said by Mr. Thompson today," Gray said.
Thompson says he told Gray to refer to him as "Uncle Earl" when talking with others, to keep Thompson's support for Gray a secret.
When asked about the nickname, the Mayor said yes, it was used.
"I said that ages ago. Where've you been?" Gray told WTOP.
Inside the forum, a man who wants to be mayor, Carlos Allen, brought up the corruption controversy in his closing statement.
"One thing you guys have got to remember - right now we've got a cloud over, you know, our Mayor."
The crowd cheered when Gray concluded by mentioning that the city's unemployment rate has fallen significantly on his watch.
He said other impressive things are going on.
"We are building housing. We have development going on everywhere across the city. Let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen: The District of Columbia is the envy of the nation at this stage, and I'm proud to be the Mayor of the District of Columbia."
Gray will face seven challengers in D.C.'s Democratic mayoral primary April 1.
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