The Early Show: 16 months ahead of Election Day, Brown?s already planting signs.
The Early Show: 16 months ahead of Election Day, Brown?s already planting signs. Credit: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

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Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown says any chatter that he hasn’t been totally cooperative with the Office of Campaign Finance’s investigation into the finances of his 2008 campaign is way off base.

Brown’s campaign paid his brother Che Brown‘s sales coaching firm $170,000 through a third-party contractor, an OCF audit found. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has said it’s probing the matter.

This morning on Newstalk with Bruce DePuyt, Brown pushed back against a the notion that he hadn’t handed over requested bank records.

“I’ve been fully cooperative on every level that I needed to be fully cooperative on,” Brown said  “So I think it’s important that you be factual on this. You can’t say that I’m not cooperating in turning over my personal stuff when that’s just not factual, at all. I am open and transparent and willing and been cooperative on any level that I possibly can be.”

So, is that true?

Let’s check the records. During a July 7, 2011, hearing at the Board of Elections and Ethics, OCF attorney William SanFord told the board Brown’s campaign “failed to comply with several requests from the Office of Campaign Finance for production of documents to substantiate that all expenditures of campaign funds were campaign related.”

SanFord also said this failure to provide the requested documents meant OCF couldn’t “verify the accuracy” of the reports and receipts Brown’s campaign actually did submit.

Yikes, looks pretty bad, right? But before we start calling Brown Pinocchio, let’s consider if there’s any wiggle room.

At last summer’s hearing, SanFord asked the BOEE to order Brown’s campaign to hand over bank records and statements “related to the financial transactions” between the third-party contractor and the sales coaching firm owned by Brown’s brother. Those were the only records OCF asked BOEE to order Brown’s campaign to hand over.

And in fact, the bank records that OCF wants aren’t actually Brown’s bank records—they’re his brother’s.

Brown says he’s handed over everything in his procession that’s been requested of him and asked everyone paid by his campaign to do the same. But Brown says he “can’t make people,” his brother included, hand over records.

That’s technically true. Heaven knows LL’s never been able to make his no-account brother do anything.

But is it too much to ask for Brown, the second most-powerful elected official in District politics, to get his brother to disclose how $170,000 worth of campaign funds were spent? That’s a lot of money not to have any answers for.

Until he does so, Brown ought to at least stop pretending he’s Captain Transparency.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery