When accused of corruption (assuming you are not guilty) you should (1) quickly deny wrongdoing and (2) be convincing.
Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Gray achieved only one of those missions yesterday.
For those who missed it, a DC businessman plead guilty Monday to illegally funneling money to a number of political campaigns including $668,000 to Gray’s 2010 election bid.
The charges have been floating around for a long time but the businessman’s detailed admissions in court have cast a serious shadow on Gray’s ongoing reelection prospects.
So as crisis communications aficionados we watched the Mayor’s moves with interest.
He quickly sat down with all the local TV affiliates and the Washington Post to protest his innocence. The language used on all the interviews was similar. He proclaimed the businessman’s confession “Lies, these are lies.” But Hizzoner could have used a little more practice in the follow on questions. Here are some examples of responses to the Washington Post that could have used some improvement:
WP: But the biggest thing is that you were aware that he was spending money that was not being reported. True?
Gray: I’ve addressed that now for what, three years? My story’s the same. My answers are the same. They are not changing.
15 Seconds comment: Indulge us, Mayor – answer the question — and don’t call it your “story”..call it “the truth” or “the facts.”)
WP: What do you tell voters, someone leaning on the fence right now, in light of everything that’s been said today?
Gray: The only thing I can tell people is what has been and continues to be the truth for me, and you know what that is. I don’t need to repeat that for the 933rd time.
15-Seconds Comment: Yes you DO have to repeat it…and don’t call it the “truth for you” call it the truth.
WP: So, lies? Entirely?
Gray: That’s what I said. That’s what I said.
15-Seconds Comment: Just say “Yes” (if that is the truth)
WP: What’s one thing you want next to your name in the paper tomorrow when it says “Mayor Gray”?
Gray: I maintain my innocence in this.
15-Seconds Comment: “Maintain”? How about: I AM innocent?
WP: What do you do next — continue with the campaign?
Gray: Keep doing what I’m doing. I can’t sit here and do this [wrings hands]. I can’t do that. When I wake up in the morning, I look in the mirror just like you do, and I see someone I respect. This evening, tomorrow morning, I’ll see somebody I respect.
15-Seconds Comment: Well, that is ONE vote he has secured
Here’s video from one of the Mayor’s several TV interviews…note at the top he repeats that his “story” isn’t changing