More financial troubles for D.C. Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown: His wife Marcia Brown is being sued for allegedly not paying more than $15,000 in credit card debt.
Ordinarily, LL wouldn’t be interested in the personal finances of a public official’s wife. But Brown’s family’s financial troubles rise to the level of news because they were a key factor in the 2010 chairman’s race–and, back then, Brown himself made clear that it was a family issue. In the midst of that contest, news broke that Brown was being sued for failing to repay more than $50,000 he owed to three different credit cards. When NBC4’s Tom Sherwood first reported the story of Brown’s unpaid debts, Brown invoked his wife (even though the credit cards were in his name): He told Sherwood that he and his wife were “‘living beyond our means.” Similarly, Brown told the Washington Post that the debt came from everyday family purchases “such as violin lessons and after-school care for his two children.”
“We continued to spend, and we overspent,” Brown told the Post, when it reported that Brown’s debt problems had been compounded by his purchase of a 38-foot powerboat named “Bulletproof.” “We were spending like we had no kids, and we had two [kids and] one income.” Brown told reporters that he’d made arrangements to pay off his debts and that he and his wife were living on a “very disciplined budget.”
“This won’t happen again,” Brown told Sherwood in July 2010.
Brown was sued by a fourth credit card company in October of that year. He’s since settled all four lawsuits; court records indicate he’s repaid those debts.
But last month, Marcia Brown was sued by American Express for $15,647.79 for what the credit card company says is an outstanding balance. Court records include Brown’s last credit card bill, which was due March 5, 2012. The bill doesn’t show any recent purchases.
As chairman, Brown makes $190,000 a year. His wife’s salary is unknown. She works at a nonprofit.
Brown’s office declined to comment for this story. His chief of staff, Megan Vahey, objected to LL writing this story, saying it was the private matter. Vahey said Brown’s office will issue a statement on the lawsuit, but not to Washington City Paper. She said the statement will come out just as soon as this story is published. LL will update when the statement’s out.
UPDATE: Brown’s office just issued this statement from the chairman:
“As an elected official, my life is an open book and is subject to examination and critique in a public forum. However, my family’s private matters are just that, private. I am deeply disappointed and concerned that the Washington City Paper has chosen to attack my wife in an effort to disparage me.
The institution of journalism has long been a bastion of impartiality and truth. Reporting, such as this, diminishes the reputation of this publication. It is my hope that in the future, this paper will honor the rights of all private citizens.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery