D.C. campaign finance officials file complaint against Kwame Brown committee

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The District’s Office of Campaign Finance on Friday filed a complaint against D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown’s 2008 re-election campaign with the city’s Board of Elections and Ethics.

The complaint means that campaign finance officials have upheld findings contained in an audit released in April of the committee that ran Mr. Brown’s re-election campaign to an at-large council seat before he became council chairman.

“The Committee is charged, among other things, with failure to report 210 contributions totaling $102,763.00, failure to report 53 expenditures totaling $169,431.49, failure to amend its Statement of Organization to include a bank account and identify a signatory, and failure to substantiate $174,785.57 in expenditures, all of which are in violation of the D.C. Campaign Finance Reform and Conflict of Interest Act,” campaign finance officials said in a brief news release.

The findings will be presented to the election and ethics board, which is expected to hold a hearing on the matter. If the board substantiates the charges, the committee could face fines and the case could be referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office for criminal prosecution if there is evidence of intentional fraud that amounts to criminal activity.

The audit into Mr. Brown’s 2008 campaign finances was issued after a six-month probe that delved deeply into the 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 Browns election campaigns, and Che Browns 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 Che Browns firm, 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.

Mr. Brown has said that while corrections had to be made to his reports reports, the funds raised were used solely for the purposes of his campaign.

The filing of the complaint marked the third major development in the week in ongoing investigations into city officials.

A D.C. Council committee on Monday heard testimony from Sulaimon Brown, a former mayoral candidate who claims the campaign of Mayor Vincent C. Gray paid him and gave him city job with a six-figure salary to remain in last year’s race and criticize incumment Adrian M. Fenty. Mr. Gray has consistently denied the accusations.

Also on Monday, the city’s attorney general filed a $1 million civil lawsuit against council member Harry Thomas, accusing the Ward 5 Democrat of running his Team Thomas charity essentially as a personal and political slush fund. The attorney general also forwarded the case to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Mr. Thomas has maintained his innocence.

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