Vincent Gray recall, District of Columbia (2012)
An effort to recall Vincent Gray from his elected position as mayor of Washington, D.C. was launched in January 2012. The recall effort was abandoned in April 2012. Gray was elected mayor in 2010, unseating incumbent mayor Adrian Fenty. Gray previously represented Ward 7 as a member of the District of Columbia's city council. A simultaneous recall effort was also launched and suspended for District of Columbia city council member Kwame Brown. No city- or ward-wide recall question has ever appeared on the ballot in the District of Columbia.
Reasons for recall
Frederick Butler, a Ward 6 resident, organized the recall effort. Butler says, "I'm not an anti-Gray person. He's not getting the job done." Butler said he initiated the recall effort because, "the man that touted himself as a champion of the poor and disenfranchised chose to spend tax payer dollars - and political capital - on increasing the salaries for his friends and members of his administration."
Gray has come under scrutiny for a hiring scandal as well as a grand jury probe into his mayoral campaign. Shortly after assuming office, Gray's team hired allies and family members of staffers for city jobs. Gray has been accused of paying mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown to stay in the 2010 mayoral race and verbally attack Adrian Fenty.
In the recall petition, Butler accuses Gray of violating his oath of office through unethical behavior. He says, “The citizens of D.C. are frustrated. How many years of corrupt government do we need to deal with? I think it’s time to take matters into our own hands.”
Gray says, "I've done nothing but serve the people of the District of Columbia in the most ethical way."
On January 11th, 2012, after recall paperwork was officially filed, Gray issued a response:
"My focus remains where it should, with the work the citizens of the District elected me to do. During my campaign for Mayor, I promised voters that I would focus on growing the economy, putting people back to work, fixing our schools, improving public safety, and getting the District back on a firm financial footing, and that’s exactly what I will continue doing. Just last month the Census confirmed that DC was now the most desirable place to live in the United States, I intend to keep it that way."
Path to the ballot
Butler announced plans to file recall paperwork with the Board of Elections and Ethics in the first week of January 2012, one year after Gray assumed office. In order to recall an elected official in the District of Columbia, the targeted official must have been in office for at least one year.
Butler filed recall paperwork on January 11th, 2012. Gray has 10 days to issue an optional response that would be included on recall petitions.
On February 1st, Butler failed to attend a session of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. As a result, there was a two-week delay in the launch of the petitions for circulation. Butler says he plans to pick up the petitions on February 13th. On February 13th, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics officially adopted the petitions, meaning Butler can begin circulating them.
Recall organizers had 180 days to collect signatures from 10% of registered voters in the District of Columbia, or approximately 45,000 people. There is also a ward distribution requirement that would require recall organizers to submit signatures from at least 10% of registered voters in five of the city's eight wards.
If enough signatures had been gathered, a special recall election could have taken place in November 2012.
In April 2012, Butler announced that he was suspending the recall effort. He said that he believes ongoing federal probes into Gray's campaign activities will eventually remove him from office, and in the meantime, the recall effort is a "poor use" of money.
- Huffington Post, "D.C. Mayor Recall: Organizer Starts Effort To Remove Vincent Gray," January 3, 2012
- My FOX DC, "Effort To Recall DC Mayor Vincent Gray, Council Chairman Kwame Brown Stalls," April 5, 2012
- Washington Informer, "Efforts Underway to Recall Gray," December 27, 2011
- NBC Washington, "Activist Ready to Launch Vince Gray Recall Campaign"
- Washington Examiner, "Recall effort against Gray under way after rocky year," January 2, 2012
- Washington Post, "Activist initiates recall proceedings against District of Columbia mayor, council chairman," January 11, 2012
- DCist, "Paperwork Filed to Recall Gray, Brown," January 11, 2012
- The DCist, "Recall Petitions Delayed by Two Weeks," February 1, 2012
- The Washington Examiner, "After false start, Gray recall effort gets official blessing," February 13, 2012