JUNE 08, 2012
Highlighting the criminal activity blotter for the District of Columbia’s famously corrupt government this week is its disgraced council chairman, Kwame Brown, pleading guilty to a federal felony.
It’s simply part of the never-ending saga of political scandals in the local government that runs the area surrounding the White House. Rarely is there a dull moment in this council, which has two convicted criminals (Marion Barry, famous for smoking crack in an FBI surveillance video, and Michael Brown, a money launderer whose father was a corrupt Clinton Administration official) on its roster.
This week, Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (no relation to Michael, son of Clinton Commerce Secretary Ron Brown) resigned after the feds charged him with bank fraud. Brown is also charged with a separate crime for violating D.C. laws in his 2008 campaign. The area’s largest mainstream newspaper published excerpts of a letter Brown wrote to fellow councilmembers saying he resigned out of “great respect” for the council because it was the “only honorable course.” He came short of professing his innocence.
Brown subsequently admitted in federal court to submitting false documents, including forging the name and signature of a college friend and overstating his income by tens of thousands of dollars, according to a news report. The lies were included on bank applications to qualify for a loan and money to buy a boat. After court, the disgraced politician apologized to his family and the public as “his voice broke.”
Just a few months ago another shameless D.C. council member, Harry Thomas, was sent to prison for stealing $350,000 in public funds meant for youth programs. Earlier this year a local paper exposed that a politically-connected nonprofit run by former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty’s pal, blew millions of dollars that were supposed to help build and renovate housing for the poor in the slums surrounding the nation’s capital.
These sorts of things are par for the course in D.C.’s perpetually corrupt government, which seldom lacks a good national headliner. Last summer Mayor Vincent Gray, a veteran councilman, was the subject of a widespread investigation for paying a mayoral candidate to stay in the race and trash dethroned, then-Mayor Fenty.
Who could forget the master headliner of them all, Marion Barry? Despite starring in an FBI surveillance video smoking crack, Barry has been elected to the D.C. Council four times since his drug conviction and proudly represents Ward 8 despite his ongoing transgressions. After completing his drug sentence, Barry has been in trouble for failing to pay his taxes, violating the terms of his probation and stalking a former girlfriend.
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