We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Just two months after Kwame Brown‘s house arrest ended, LL would like to be the first to call for a comeback tour. The motivations here are entirely selfish, because another campaign could be the only thing that gets an answer to a question that’s been bugging LL. Specifically, how is this guy so bad at running a campaign fund?
Brown’s 2008 at-large re-election campaign has been his most infamous disaster, earning him a misdemeanor campaign finance charge. But a new Office of Campaign Finance report on his winning 2010 race against Vincent Orange to become D.C. Council chairman reveals that operation stunk, too.
The OCF audit finds 10 violations in Brown’s campaign account. There’s minor stuff, like $10.75 in unreported bank fees, and then there’s the matter of nearly half a million dollars in inadequately documented contributions and expenses.
Among the problems: Brown campaign workers made out seven checks to cash, totalling $19,270. That’s $18,970 above $300, the maximum legal limit for a campaign cash fund. Another $2,897.27 in expenses never went through the campaign’s bank account and couldn’t be explained by campaign documents.
But that’s a pittance compared to Brown’s other mystery expenses. Brown’s campaign spent $192,289 and $23,005 on payments, respectively, to two companies for “consulting services.” Brown’s campaign didn’t produce contracts between the companies, and invoices didn’t explain what the companies were actually doing for Brown.
Of course, it’s not a Brown campaign without an appearance from brother Che Brown, convicted last year for bank fraud. Brown, who wasn’t listed as authorized to write checks from the campaign fund, nevertheless cut 28 checks worth $92,260.00. He wrote seven of the checks out to cash.
Brown’s campaign had as much trouble proving how it took money as it did showing how it spent the funds. The campaign didn’t have enough documentation, including credit card information or checks, for 260 contributions, worth a total of $134,282.00.
All of the OCF complaints add up to $320,011.27 in suspicious expenditures and $138,482 in underdocumented or excessive contributions. Fred Cooke Jr., Kwame Brown’s attorney, declined to comment.
Five of the campaign issues were referred to OCF’s general counsel for further action.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery