The charges will be filed in the District’s federal court in a “criminal information,” a document that can only be filed with the defendant’s consent and signals a plea deal is near, the officials said. Brown did not immediately return phone calls. His attorney, Frederick D. Cooke Jr., did not respond to numerous phone calls and emails Wednesday. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, Bill Miller, declined to comment.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly, said that Cooke and prosecutors have been in discussions about a potential plea in the case during the last few weeks. The most serious charges appear to be linked to a mortgage Brown obtained in 2006 on his four-bedroom Hillcrest home and not directly tied to his 2008 campaign for an at-large city council seat.
DCist has a whole lot more about the allegations, but it seems after his actions today he has all but admitted guilt.
In essence, Brown overvalued his home when he applied for a credit card in 2006, saying that his $357,930 home was actually worth $850,000. In 2010, it was reported that Brown had been sued by three credit card companies for not paying close to $700,000 in debt; last week the City Paper reported that his wife had also been sued for not paying off her credit card.
That the possible charges are not linked to his 2008 council campaign—in which he was accused of steering hundreds of thousands worth of campaign contributions to his brother and father—may mean that Brown could keep his seat; yesterday he insisted that he was not going to resign. (The provision of a new ethics law that would ban officials convicted of felonies while in office from remaining in their seats isn’t yet in effect, as it has to be approved by voters in November.) That being said, part of the deal he’s likely to agree to with the feds may well force him to resign, as was the case with former Ward 5 councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr
DC has had a string of issues and federal indictment of their officials lately, and surprisingly hookers and crack weren’t involved. Harry Thomas was recently replaced after getting a three year prison sentence, and it looks like the next target is Mayor Vincent Gray. Perhaps, that’s why he was delaying the appointment of board members to the DC Government and Accountability Ethics board.
One thing is for sure this presents a huge issue for DC local government. DC Curmudgeon has more…
Speculation is rampant about how things would play out should one or both be removed from their current positions. I wanted to put together a really rough outline of what some think could happen soon. I’m certain this isn’t 100% accurate, so please let me know in the comments if you can provide a correction.
- In the simplest scenario, Kwame Brown steps down or is removed from office.
- Mary Cheh becomes the temporary chairperson, due to her current position as Chair Pro Tempore. She calls a meeting to select an interim chairperson, who, by law, must come from the list of at-large members of the council. The chairperson is not allowed to have any other employment, and the story is that Michael Brown and David Catania would not want to resign from their non-council jobs, leaving Phil Mendelson and Vince Orange to compete for the chair’s seat. (Since the interim chairperson would not actually be an elected chairperson, it’s not clear whether they would have to give up outside employment).
- The at-large seat vacated by one of these two would remain temporarily vacant until a special election is held in conjunction with the general election this November.
- That special election would be to fill the chairperson’s seat on a more permanent basis.
- If Mendelson were to run in and win that election, BOEE would hold another special election in the new year to fill his vacant at-large seat.
- If Orange were to run in that election, he would have to leave the race he’s currently in for the at-large seat. You can’t run for two council seats at the same time. (While you can’t run for two seats in the same election, a special election held at the same time as the general election could be considered a different election, so it’s possible, but unlikely, that someone could run in two races at once.) The DC Democratic State Committee would get to select someone to take his line as the Democrat on the ballot for the at-large seat (somewhat similar to the way they selected Sekou Biddle to take Kwame Brown’s at-large seat temporarily when he became council chairman).
If Vince Gray follows Kwame Brown in stepping down or being removed from office, the situation on the council becomes even more muddled.
- The interim chairperson would become the interim mayor.
- Another interim chairperson would have to be selected to run the council. Let’s assume that the council selects Mendelson as the interim chairperson after Kwame Brown leaves office. That would make him the interim mayor, and would leave Vince Orange as the selection for interim council chairperson.
- BOEE would call for fall special elections for a new mayor and a new chairperson.
- The above caveats about the seats currently held by Mendelson and Orange would continue to apply (temporarily vacant, would need to be filled in a special election should one of them run for and win a higher office).
- It’s safe to assume that current officeholders like Evans, Bowser, Wells, and others may run for one or both of these seats. Should Evans, Bowser, or others currently up for re-election choose to run for either of these seats, the Democratic committee for their respective wards would name someone to take their line on the ballot, as they couldn’t run for two offices at once. Wells would not have to worry about that, since he’s not currently up for re-election.
The potential for a confusing ongoing election season is about to increase greatly. I never would have guessed that all of this mess was possible just two short years ago