GOP Claims Michael Brown Ineligible to Claim Council Seat
The argument [PDF] rests on the language of the District's Home Rule Charter, which states that no more than
two of the four at-large members three of the five members elected at-large (including the chairman) can be "affiliated" with the same party. Brown, the D.C. GOP argues, is clearly affiliated with the Democratic party, making him the fourth at-large Dem, in addition to Kwame R. Brown, Vincent C. Gray, and Phil Mendelson.
Brown, son of former Democratic National Committee chair Ron Brown, had changed his voter registration in May from Democratic to no-party status. Since then, however, he has repeatedly expressed his support in public forums for the Democratic presidential ticket and billed himself as an "independent Democrat" in his campaign literature.
The Repubs cite both of those facts as evidence that Brown is really a Democrat. The letter was drafted by lawyer Charlie Spies of McKenna Long & Aldridge on behalf of the D.C. Republican Committee. The board had planned to certify the general election results Monday.
Brown says the filing was no surprise, and that he's a true independent. "That's what my registration card says," he tells LL.
BOEE spokesperson Dan Murphy was not immediately available for comment.
Spies says he's confident the board will refuse to certify Brown's win. And if that doesn't happen, he says, "We are preserving all options." Board decisions can be appealed to the D.C. Court of Appeals.
UPDATE, 2:23 P.M.: Murphy says that the board has received the letter and its legal counsel will review it. He notes that the board has no real procedure for a challenge filed prior to certification; after the results are certified, he says, there is a 7-day challenge period provided for in board regulations.
"In terms of the law and our process" Murphy says, "there's no such thing as a pre-certification challenge."
UPDATE, 8:00 P.M.: In response to Murphy's point, Spies points to a portion of District law—D.C. Code §1-1001.10(b)(1), if you must know—contemplating the possibility that a candidate is "declared ineligible" in the period between election and certification, requiring the spot to be declared vacant. "I agree with Mr. Murphy that the Board doesn't have a clear internal procedure for how to deal with this," he writes in an e-mail, "but that lack of precedent/clear procedure does not give the Board a free pass to ignore clear DC Code."
Photo by Darrow Montgomery.