- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 28, 2012

D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown announced Thursday that a longtime campaign assistant made unauthorized payments from the campaign’s bank account.

Mr. Brown, at-large independent up for re-election in November, said he contacted the Metropolitan Police Department “upon discovering this disturbing fact” while he personally reviewed campaign records on Friday. He did not name the staffer — described as someone who has assisted his campaigns for five years — and declined to comment further “on the ongoing criminal investigation.”

He said he will take over personally as the campaign’s treasurer. His campaign filings list Hakim J. Sutton as his most recent treasurer.

“To demonstrate my commitment to operate the campaign books transparently and ethically, I will bring in an independent auditor to ensure that all campaign finance activities meet the strictest fiduciary standards,” Mr. Brown said.

Mr. Brown raised the issue in a press release on Thursday afternoon. Within moments, David Grosso — a Brookland resident who plans to challenge Mr. Brown as an independent this November — took to Twitter to say Mr. Brown “can’t handle money in any aspect of his life — personal, campaign and of course legislative.”

The proactive announcement arrives at a sensitive time for D.C. lawmakers, who are expected to pass campaign finance reforms this year to address mounting concerns about a lack of transparency and pay-to-play in the city’s political races.

FBI agents raided the home and offices of Jeffrey E. Thompson, a prolific donor to almost all of the District’s sitting politicians, in March as part of an apparent probe into campaign finance matters. He has not been accused of any crimes.

Former council Chairman Kwame R. Brown resigned earlier this month before admitting to felony bank fraud from 2005 to 2007. But he also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor campaign-finance violation for authorizing an unreported “side account” during his 2008 re-election campaign for at-large member of the council.

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