Opinion: Kwame Brown and Other Crooks

It always struck me as curious that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder would swear into office D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown.

Do Holder’s lieutenants not use Google?

If they had, maybe on that cold January day the attorney general would have found something other to do than hold the bible on which Brown pledged the oath of office.

At the time of his swearing in, Brown was already under fire for possible campaign finance violations, his personal finances were the subject of great interest and his first bid for At-Large Council had been marred by allegations.

Seventeen months later, with a single count of bank fraud, Holder’s Justice Department put an end to Brown’s tenure on the D.C. Council.

How ironic.

So what is next for Brown and prosecutors?

First, Brown has resigned from the Council.

Next, he will appear in court on Friday to plead guilty to one count of felony bank fraud stemming from a loan application on which he falsified documents.

Is this the end of Brown’s legal woes?


For more than a year, Brown’s 2008 re-election campaign has been under investigation. Questions about unreported contributions, expenditures and $239,000 paid to a company owned by Brown’s brother, Che Brown, remain unanswered.

And even if the Feds determine that no laws were broken, Brown’s 2008 campaign must answer to District campaign regulators, whose audit found hundreds of reporting violations. Last year, Brown’s lawyer asked District officials to set aside their inquiry and let the Feds take over. That does not mean the District, which has the authority to impose hefty fines, is through with Brown’s 2008 campaign.

Nine months ago I called on Holder’s local prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, to “arrest someone,” in particular Brown and former Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. (who is headed to prison).

Now Brown and Thomas are gone, but other elected officials in the District are still feeling the heat. Whether or not they end up in the same boat as their disgraced colleagues is anyone’s guess.

What should be clear, however, is the presence of a new sheriff in town and his obvious intent to rid the District of corrupt and dishonest politicians.

Anyone who underestimates Machen’s mission does so at his own peril.

Take Brown, for example.

So far, Machen has not been able to nail Brown for any crimes associated with the 2008 re-election campaign. But Brown is gone nonetheless.

Al Capone was notorious for murder and bootlegging. The Feds did not get him on any of those crimes. The IRS brought down Capone for tax evasion.


Machen has already advised wrongdoers perpetrating schemes on government and politics to come forward.

So if you are working a scam, lining your pockets or otherwise involved in public corruption, listen to Machen. Spill the beans. That scheme you think is brilliant; it ain’t.

Machen is smarter than you.

Make it easy. Spare us the drama. Spare yourself the humiliation. Confess.

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.

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