The man who served as the District of Columbia's attorney general under Mayor Adrian Fenty made no bones Wednesday about how he thought the city's 2010 mayoral election went down.
"Bottom line - the election was corrupted and stolen," Nickles said. "This is a tragedy for the city. My guess is that these guys thought they'd get away with it."
Mayor Gray defeated Fenty in the Democratic primary before the 2010 mayoral election by 7 percentage points before overwhelmingly winning that November's general election.
The mayor's personal attorney, Robert S. Bennett, said that Nickles should understand that he has advised his client not to comment on any ongoing investigations until they are complete.
"I'm very disappointed that a lawyer of Mr. Nickles' caliber would comment when he doesn't know the facts," Bennett said.
Nickels' claims come a day after a fourth top aide to Mayor Gray during his successful campaign pleaded guilty to a crime connected to D.C. politics. On Tuesday, Vernon Hawkins admitted to lying to federal investigators who have been taking a broader look into potential financial malfeasance in the 2010 election.
Hawkins faces five years in prison for making false statements, but prosecutors say that he has been cooperative in the ongoing corruption investigation, which centers on a lucrative shadow campaign that allegedly financed a portion of Gray's campaign.
"This guilty plea takes us one step closer to understanding the extent of the deception that tainted the 2010 campaign," U.S. Attorney Ron Machen said Tuesday after Hawkins' plea.
Hawkins joined Thomas Gore, Howard Brooks and Jeanne Harris as members of Gray's inner circle that have pleaded guilty to a variety of crimes, including falsifying payments to former candidate Sulaimon Brown (Gore and Brooks) and funneling unreported funds into the purported shadow campaign (Harris).
Nickles declined to speculate about whether or not Gray knew specifically about the wrongdoing, but he did say that Gray is a "detail kind of guy."
"There's nothing around him that he doesn't know about," Nickles said. "I think he owes a duty to the citizens of D.C. to come forth and answer some of the questions."