Kwame Brown: Goal Is to Be "Open and Transparent"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown says he'll push the council to write a sweeping new ethics law this fall -- even though Brown himself is facing a criminal probe of his campaign spending and other ethics questions about his time in office. (Published Friday, Sep 16, 2011)

    DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown insisted Friday he's going to help lead the council to write a tough new ethics law.

    Brown said his goal is to be "open and transparent" with city business.

    His comments on the WAMU 88.5 "Politics Hour" with this reporter and host Kojo Nnamdi came as Brown still faces questions --- and one criminal probe – about his own ethics.

    In a sometimes-contentious session, Brown declined to comment on whether he has appeared before the FBI or the U.S. Attorney's Office, which are investigating his 2008 at-large campaign expenditures.

    The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics referred the case to federal authorities after its review this summer. Board Chairman Togo West said the board acted because it believed crimes may have been committed.

    One key issue in the probe is expenditures by a brother of the chairman. There has been no public disclosure of those funds –- about $200,000 -– although Brown says he's asked his brother to make those disclosures public.

    When he was elected chairman of the council last fall, Brown said he would publicly disclose all the private money he raised and spent on his transition and inauguration. Although Brown says the documents were on his website a few months ago, reportedly they were viewable for only a few days, and then taken down.

    And when asked about the city's leasing of two SUVS when he first became chairman, Brown insisted the $20,000 cost incurred was not his fault and he'd repay only one month of those costs... once he's told how much it is.

    Mayor Vincent Gray also has faced questions about a failure to fully disclose his fundraising and expenditures.

    The D.C. Council returns from its summer recess next week and the ethics issue is expected to dominate this fall's discussions.