All Articles Tagged "kwame brown"
(Washington Post) — D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown has ordered the legislature’s members and employees to file internal financial disclosures for the first time, raising sharp objections from his colleagues. In a memo to council members circulated late Wednesday, Brown (D) said the new disclosures are intended “to avoid potential conflicts of interest and to ensure compliance with local and federal laws.” The reports will not be publicly available but will be used by council attorneys “to determine whether a subordinate has a financial conflict of interest” and to provide appropriate advice. “We want to make sure we’re doing all we can do to ensure we’re maintaining the highest ethical standards,” Brown said in an interview Friday. The new requirement follows a legal review by the council’s chief lawyer, V. David Zvenyach, that addressed a “lack of consistency in interpretation” of local and federal ethics laws as they apply to city legislators. It comes amid a broader effort on the council to address the city’s ethical strictures after a series of embarrassing controversies in city government.
(Washington Examiner) — A rising tide of D.C. voters and elected officials is calling on Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. to resign after he agreed to pay the city back $300,000 he was accused of stealing. Petitions are circulating through Thomas’ Ward 5 to initiate a recall vote, and two D.C. Council members have called for him to resign. Other council members, including council Chairman Kwame Brown, have pushed Thomas to strongly consider his actions and the dark cloud they’ve cast on the city’s legislative body. Meanwhile, Thomas’ attorney, Fred Cooke, is creating a legal defense fund, The Washington Examiner has confirmed. The cash will help Thomas cover the costs of defending himself against an ongoing criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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(Washington Post) — Embattled D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown solidified his grip on the 13-member body Tuesday, booting a nemesis from his committee chairmanship while greatly expanding the influence of one of his chief allies and confidants, council member Mary M. Cheh. In a highly unusual midyear reshuffling of committee assignments, Brown (D) unnerved progressives and members of the business community when he removed council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) as chairman of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation after a 12 to 1 vote. Brown also replaced Wells, the council’s chief advocate for smart-growth policies, as the District’s representative onMetro’s Board of Directors. Brown opted to keep two of the council’s most essential functions — oversight of public schools and economic development — under the purview of a committee he chairs.
(Washington Examiner) — D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown’s 2008 council campaign is being investigated by federal prosecutors after an audit earlier this year found that he failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions and expenditures. On Thursday, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics officially referred Brown’s 2008 campaign to the U.S. Attorney’s office, choosing to forgo a discussion about fines for the campaign and wait for the firepower of the FBI to determine if any laws were broken.
(Afro) — As scandals plague the same D.C. elected officials that push for the city’s autonomy, some residents think the city’s messy politics may hinder the home rule fight. Local groups recently signed and sent a letter to the House Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee to tell the government to stay out of local issues. But it becomes difficult to convince Congress—particularly a Republican-controlled House—that the District can handle its own affairs when more and more of the city’s leaders are becoming mired in a bog of corruption, bribery, misappropriation of funds, campaign reporting improprieties, failure to pay taxes and other charges. “We make it worse for ourselves when we have all these scandals,” said Corryn Freeman, who was arrested earlier this year in a D.C. autonomy protest led by D.C. Vote. “Because we are not managing ourselves correctly, it gives them more reason to say D.C. can’t handle their own business.”
(Washington Post) — A week after he unveiled dramatic allegations of corruption against a council member, city Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan on Monday criticized “major flaws” in an ethics overhaul under consideration by the D.C. Council. While calling the bill introduced by council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large) and council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) a “first step,” Nathan testified in a public hearing that it would create a “competing bureaucratic upstart” that would frustrate his own office’s efforts to root out public corruption. Comments from Nathan and other witnesses are likely to complicate the District government’s efforts to respond to an unprecedented array of city hall scandals. Nathan said the council should “scrap” the bill, which would create an Office of Government Accountability to police ethical matters and an advisory committee to make recommendations on city ethics law and procedures.
(Washington Post) — A fringe mayoral candidate says at a D.C. Council hearing that “the mayor is a crook.” The city’s attorney general accuses council member Harry Thomas Jr. of spending more than $300,000 of public money on a luxury vehicle and personal travel. The new council chairman, Kwame R. Brown, is embarrassed into giving up the fancy sport-utility vehiclethat the city ordered to his specifications. The new mayor, Vincent C. Gray, gets rid of his chief of staff after reports that several children of top officials were given city jobs. What does it mean that at least five members of the D.C. Council and the mayor are spending a good chunk of their time trying to fend off accusations of wrongdoing? For now, say city officials and academics who study the District, it means that the new administration has been unable to communicate its vision or agenda. At a news conference Tuesday, Gray, who has yet to appoint a chief of staff to replace the one he sacked, tried to reject all questions about the scandals. But that was virtually the only topic reporters asked about.
(Washington Informer) — The city budget that the District of Columbia Council passed recently had something for everyone to be happy with despite a floundering economy and a $322 million shortfall. The D.C. Council passed a $10 billion fiscal year 2012 budget on Wed., May 25 that went through an intense process of horse-trading and compromises. In the end, the budget was not perfect in any D.C. Council member’s view, but it was one that was workable. “The Council of the District of Columbia unanimously passed a budget that continues to provide necessary services to residents and businesses while restoring deep cuts to the critical human services that the city provides to thousands of men, women and children,” D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown said.
(Washington Informer) — The chairman of the District’s legislative body is focused on serving the people of the District the way he believes it would most benefit them. D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown said that he will not imitate what past chairs of the D.C. Council have done. “I am Kwame Brown,” he said. “People know me. They say that Kwame Brown is the people’s chairman.” Brown, 40, was elected to head the D.C. Council in the November 2010 general election, making him the youngest person selected by the voters of the District to have that position. He fought a bruising primary battle with Vincent Orange, who served with Brown on the D.C. Council as a Ward 5 council member from 2005-2007. Brown, who was elected at-large to the D.C. Council in 2004, gave up his seat to become the chairman of the D.C. Council in late 2010 and tapped D.C. State Board of Education member Sekou Biddle from Ward 4 to take his place. The D.C. State Democratic Committee ratified Brown’s selection as his temporary replacement in January but the voters elected Orange, 54, to the position permanently on Tues., April 26. Brown was criticized for his misuse of public funds to lease two luxury sports vehicles before he was officially sworn-in to office on Jan. 2. He has also come under fire for his 2008 re-election campaign in which tens of thousands of dollars have been unaccounted for, according to the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance.
(Washington Informer) — D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown introduced sweeping ethics reform legislation on Tuesday that would create an accountability office tasked with investigating and penalizing city employees and council members for ethical breaches. Ethics reform was a key component of Brown’s campaign platform, but it appeared Brown didn’t have support for the initiative during a council retreat in January. Much has changed since then. Brown himself has been caught asking taxpayers to foot the bill for a “fully loaded” Lincoln Navigator, his campaign finances have been questioned by an audit, and Mayor Vincent Gray has become the subject of two federal investigations into his campaign and hiring practices. City leaders — D.C. Council members among them — have been left to remake their image in the public’s eye, and Brown’s ethics bill gives them the chance to do that.