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During the 2010 D.C. Council chairman’s race, Vincent Orange attacked his opponent Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown over Brown’s dismal personal finances, which included more than $50,000 in unpaid credit card debt.
Brown, according to a former campaign aide, was angered by Orange’s attacks and wanted to mount a vigorous rebuttal. But Brown was talked down, says the aide, by campaign adviser Ivanhoe Donaldson, a former aide to Marion Barry who went to prison for stealing city funds.
Donaldson told Brown, who was the clear favorite at the time, to relax and ignore Orange’s attacks. Responding, Donaldson argued, would just give Orange more attention, the aide says. Brown took the advice and cruised to an easy victory, winning by nearly 17 points.
Two years later, At-Large Councilmember Michael Brown is taking a different approach. Brown, who is favored to win re-election in next month’s general election, has been under constant fire from his opponents for problems with his personal and campaign finances. And it looks like Brown isn’t going to take it anymore!
“Talk about your arrest and conviction … talk about it.” Brown said. “Everyone gets into my stuff, get into yours. … Did you tell the voters?”Later on Twitter, Brown explained that it wasn’t so much the crime, but Grosso’s “hypocrisy” that he was going after.
“If running on platform of good govt/transparency— [should] have disclosed all charges/convictions,” Brown wrote.
LL profiled Grosso in August. During an interview, Grosso said he’d been a follower of the Grateful Dead. Naturally, LL’s next question was about drugs. Grosso freely copped to the pot charge during the interview—which LL didn’t include in the story because, c’mon, who wasn’t busted for having a small amount of pot while camping in Florida when they were 22?
It’s hard to see how Brown is doing himself any favors with these attacks. Do they take attention off his own troubles, which include pleading guilty in 1997 to being part of an illegal straw donor scheme? Maybe, but they also give Grosso, who is much less well known than Brown around town, some attention. And Brown just comes off as angry and a bit whiney when making these attacks. On Newstalk today he did his best Sarah Palin impersonation when he complained about the fairness of the media.
“If I sneeze without a tissue I get on the front page of the paper,” Brown said. “They pick on me.”
Brown might want to find his own Donaldson to get him to focus on what’s important on the race. The latest campaign finance reports show that Grosso has a large cash-on-hand advantage going into the final weeks. Grosso has $67,000 in the bank, while Brown, who says his treasurer walked off with more than $100,000 of his campaign money, has only $16,000.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery
Photo by Darrow Montogmery