Opinion: Mopping Up Kwame Brown's Mess - NBC4 Washington
First Read
Your first stop for politics in D.C., Maryland and Virginia

Opinion: Mopping Up Kwame Brown's Mess



    The District of Columbia just experienced quite a week.

    It was so intense for Kwame Brown, who resigned as D.C. Council chairman shortly before pleading guilty to banking and campaign crimes, that he sought permission from prosecutors to leave town for a week to avoid the media.

    Never before has this town seen a more circus-like, deceit-filled political demise.

    Brown’s tenure wasn't much better either.

    It began with lies and ended with lies. Fitting that a fraudulent character would be brought down on a fraud charge.

    Notwithstanding Brown’s departure to parts unknown, there remains some tidying up to do.

    Here are a few odds and ends:

    • The local Democratic Party needs to find a new delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Brown was elected to represent the District as a “Party Leader/Elected Official." He is now neither.
    • In 2011, the Office of Campaign Finance (OCF) determined that Brown’s 2008 campaign violated hundreds of reporting requirements and other regulations. In deference to the U.S. Attorney and Brown’s lawyers, District regulators put enforcement actions on hold while federal investigators probed the campaign.

    Will OCF impose fines against the campaign? Let’s hope they do not consider this a closed case. The OCF has been under fire for being less-than-aggressive in its pursuit of candidates and elected officials. Stern penalties against Brown’s 2008 campaign would be a step in the right direction for what many people see as a moribund bureaucracy.

    • The U.S. Attorney says its investigation into the 2008 campaign continues. Brown’s plea agreement shields him from further prosecution related to the matter, but requires that he cooperate with investigators. Will the Feds find wrongdoing beyond the “aiding and abetting” charge to which Brown pleaded guilty?
    • Brown promised to repay the city for expenses related to his infamous “Fully Loaded” SUV fiasco. Sources tell me that the D.C. Attorney General prepared a statement of costs. Now that Brown is gone, will he keep his word and make good on his promise? Don’t hold your breath.
    • After Brown was elected to chair the Council in 2010, he formed a transition committee to fund political and inaugural expenses. The organization was filed as an IRS regulated 501c4 non-profit. A search of public records indicates that the transition committee has yet to file mandatory revenue and expenditure reports. Brown pledged to be transparent with the fund’s finances. I have been requesting the records for nearly a year. Perhaps the IRS will be more successful in getting an honest accounting of the money.

    Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive...

    Chuck Thies is a political analyst and consultant.  His columns appear every Tuesday and Thursday on First Read DMV. He co-hosts "DC Politics" on WPFW, 89.3 FM. Since 1991, Chuck has lived in either D.C., Maryland or Virginia. Email your tips and complaints to chuckthies@gmail.com or tweet at @chuckthies.