OCF holds hearing on Brown campaign finance violations

The District’s Office of Campaign Finance met Monday with representatives of council Chairman Kwame R. Brown’s 2008 re-election campaign seeking answers as to why it failed to report numerous transactions and maintain proper records.

Campaign treasurer Dawn Cromer and attorney Frederick D. Cooke Jr. met with campaign finance officials for 90 minutes behind closed doors at the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center on U Street in Northwest.

“This is part of the investigative process,” OCF spokesman Wesley Williams said, noting additional hearings will be scheduled. “Investigations are closed until they’re complete.”

Ms. Cromer was the only person cited in a hearing notice, which accuses the Committee to Re-Elect Kwame Brown of, among other things, failing to initially report 210 contributions totaling more than $102,700 and 53 expenditures totaling more than $169,400.

Mr. Brown had the option of attending the hearing, but declined. His chief of staff said Mr. Brown has no comment until the investigation is complete.

The six-month OCF probe delved deeply into the Brown campaign’s record-keeping and expenditures, including payments to consultants such as Mr. Brown’s brother, Che Brown, who has worked on all of Kwame Brown’s election campaigns, and Che Brown’s business, Partners in Learning, a motivational and business-coaching firm.

The audit revealed that the committee spent $379,654 — or 46 percent of its total expenditures from August 2007 through March 2008 — on a company called Banner Consulting, which was retained to manage field operations for the campaign. Invoices provided by the committee, though, did not match services rendered by Banner. Of the money paid by the committee to Banner, $239,663 was then paid or transferred from Banner to Mr. Brown’s brother’s firm, Partners in Learning, which had reached a subcontracting agreement with Banner.

Partners in Learning netted more than $25,800 under the arrangement, according to a profit-and-loss statement submitted by the company.

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