Candidate for Council Chair Mired in Personal Debt

Kwame Brown owes 3 credit card companies more than $50,000

At a candidate forum for D.C. Council chair Wednesday night, two-term council member Kwame Brown emphasized how important it is for the council chair to understand city finances in these rough economic times. Thousands of city jobs have been cut, and Washington, like many cities, is struggling to meet its demands for citizen services.

Brown is running against former council member Vincent Orange, who criticizes the current council for its spending habits in tough economic times.

Now, court documents obtained by News4 paint a bleak picture of significant credit card overspending by Brown and court cases to recapture more than $50,000 in overdue payments, late fees and attorney costs.

The documents show Brown owes the American Express company more than $8,000 in late payments and fees. Brown owes Visa more than $25,000 in late payments, penalties and fees for his Signature card. A second visa card has an overdue balance of $22,000.

In an interview with News4 Thursday afternoon -- an interview that he asked to be held outside of the Wilson building -- Brown did not try to explain away the personal debt problems. Brown told News4 that he and his wife had been "living beyond our means."  He said he has taken steps to live on a budget and has worked out payment plans for all three of the credit cards. In the court papers, only one of the complaints shows that he's agreed to pay $500 a month toward one balance.

It's unclear how or whether Brown's personal financial problems will affect his campaign to become the second-highest ranking elected official in a city with mounting debt problems.

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