Loose Lips

A Close Read of Kwame Brown’s SUV Lease Deal

When LL first broke the news in January that the city is paying nearly $2,000 a month for Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown's Lincoln Navigator, his office said Brown was "appalled" at the high cost and was looking into whether the District could get out of the contract in an affordable way.

Now that the Washington Post has a Sunday front-pager expanding on the story—with some unflattering e-mails showing Brown has put the city on the hook for an extra Navigator because he didn't like the gray interior he was offered at first—Brown appears to be really looking into getting out of the lease.

"He is checking into returning it," says Brown's spokeswoman Traci Hughes, when LL followed up on a tweet from WUSA9's Bruce Johnson saying Brown was going to return the SUV. Hughes says Brown isn't going to release a statement until he has all the information regarding the cost of terminating the lease.

While he's doing that, let's do some digging ourselves, shall we?

LL has a copy of the original contract for most of the D.C. fleet of leased cars, as well as the modification that includes Brown's SUV. (LL does not have the copy of the lease for the first Navigator Brown rejected because its seats weren't black, though—which the city is still leasing, according to the Post.) There's nothing mentioned in the original contract about terminating a lease early, so Brown might be out of luck on that end. There is, however, a section marked "Vehicle Redeployment," which says:

In the event of an early vehicle return to [Fleet Management Administration] because of program changes or budgetary constraints, FMA shall have the option to redeploy the lease vehicle to another DC user-agency for the duration of the remaining lease term, provided remaining lease term is more than two months. All terms, conditions, and the monthly lease rate associated with the lease of a vehicle shall remain unchanged.

This is an option Brown should consider. Redeploying the SUV wouldn't help save the city any money, but it might help Brown save some face by no longer being seen riding around in a symbol of hypocrisy and government waste. (Or rather, riding around in one symbol of hypocrisy and government waste, while a second symbol of hypocrisy and government waste goes unused because Brown didn't like its color scheme.) LL suggests the city redeploy the fancy Navigator to the police department's K-9 unit, so the city's cutest cops can kick back, gnaw on a rawhide, and watch Lassie DVDs on the Navigator's rear entertainment system when they aren't hitting the streets. The city should also build little ramps so the police dogs can stick their heads out of the power moonroof for some fresh air.

Brown could also try and sell the lease on the open market. There's a company, Swapalease, that lets you sell your lease to an interested buyer for a short-term lease. LL checked, and it just so happens that there is currently no one trying to unload a $2,0000-a-month Lincoln Navigator on the company's website. No competition!

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • noodlez

    HAVE ANYONE MENTIONED THAT HE DIDNT WANT THE GRAY INTERIOR BECUASE HE WOULD HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED BY BEING TO CLOSE TO GRAY?

    WHAT IS IT WITH THOSE WILSON HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES? WILSON WAS SUPPOSED TO BE WHERE THE SMART FOLK WENT TO SCHOOL BACK IN THE DAY (CIRCA MID-TO-LATE 80'S). THE LAST TWO THAT REPPED THE TIGERS IN THE DC GOVT ARE DUMB AS SHIT AND DETACHED FROM REALITY!

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  • Maria

    I totally agree with David. You get what you voted for with Brown. I couldn't believe he won over a CPA/Lawyer (Vincent Orange). We the taxpayers, need to keep a close eye on Brown!

  • Pay Up Kwame

    If Chairman Brown is indeed returning the leased vehicle(s)--(where is the other suv), will he pay the $3,900 each month for the leases on the two luxury suvs? Since the leases will not terminate until this fall, DC taxpayers will have to fork over money until then.

    The truth be told he is only reacting after getting caught and he should really resign. You can only recall an elected member of the Council in the 2nd or 3rd year of their term. So, we are stuck with him through the end of this year.

  • notaDCcommish

    Brown won because of Orange. No one wants Orange. We need the option voting for of NO ONE to these elected offices. DC is afraid to put the option of voting to keep an office vacant on the ballot.

  • Jason

    HE SHOULD RESIGN!

  • dcuser

    This DC voter is utterly sickened by Brown's SUV shenanigans, and by Gray's recent hiring of unqualified cronies (including one recent felon).

  • Nick

    He should resign.

    Why on earth does a city council member need a publicly financed vehicle.

    Maybe if our elected officials took the metro more often they would be more interested in improving it.

  • Southeast Ken

    @DCUSER; are you talking about Ward 4 DC Resident Cherita Whiting? She was recently hired by the Gray administration to work at Parks & Rec. What's so funny, Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser now chair the committee that oversee Parks & Rec. It's alleged, these 2 women hate each others guts. LOL

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/feb/16/friend-of-gray-hired-for-dc-job/

  • Richard notRich

    its amazing what suckers we are here in D.C. - and that this is the best we can do. What could possibly have motivated past chairman gray and chairman brown to do this, after the former Mayor drove around in a smart car, with no bodyguards. why do they need body guards? are they as bad as Mubarak or Khadafi? and why do the real estate people in town continue to support these jerks and jim graham?

  • Wendy Washington

    I am a Washingtonian and we are not all suckers, but we have been duped by Kwame. I did not vote for Kwame and will never vote for him. The cheshire-cat grin on his face says it all. He is nothing but a con-man! I would love to see him re-called, however, I want any recall effort to be successful. He is not going to resign because he needs the higher salary to get out of debt.

    His lack of fiscal responsibility is reason enough to boot him out of office. He is irresponsible with his personal finances as well as his campaign finances. See CityPaper article regarding the many amendments to his campaign financial reports.

    I say he should pay for the rejected vehicle out of his own pocket -- wait that would put us in line behind his creditors.

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  • Somebody

    Ok Kwame, let the people over in Ward 7 and 8 use the SUV to get their groceries home from the Giant and Safeway. That way,tax payers would be able to make use of the vehicle until the lease is terminated. As for a driver, find a retired person with a good pension that has nothing to do all day and would love to help out (volunteer).

    Tips would go toward the contract. On Saturdays, high school students could clean and polish up the vehicle for credit toward their volunteer hours. As a matter of fact, send the entire unused fleet over to those stores. Problem solved!

  • T

    @Noodlez - neither Fenty nor Brown graduated from Wilson! This is a lie fabricated by campaign staff. Brown graduated from Phelps and Fenty graduated from Mackin (sp?)I attended Wilson in the late 80's and I am sick and tired of these bammas trying to rep Wilson!

  • DCHoodrat

    Isn't Cherita Whiting the thick black chick with orange hair and purple lips who was against the Mayoral takeover of the schools?

  • noodlez

    THAT EXPLAINS IT!

    ALL THE SMART FOLK WENT TO WILSON AND BOTH OF THOSE BAMMAS ARE DUMB AS SHIT!

  • DrClifford Thomas@PGCRec

    I, Dr Clifford Thomas of Bladensburg,karate teacher Communinity Ctr, in PeeGee County also molest voters, kids and parents by lying to them to get my foot in their business. Also, I read report cards of the kids in public (I fool U like Kwame Bee)to strangers and kick out parents who do not like it ,like last week.
    In the class I called a parent a punk , for questioning me aboyt MY RULES and the sorry Parks Directress, Ronnie Gathers nor Rushern Baker, PG County Executive does nuthin honey.
    Kwame should keep driving the SUV, I graduated from Eastern HS in SE and this is how we roll on you negroes and screw the parents, kids or homosexuals we tke monye from just ride-along idiots.

  • Southeast Ken

    @DCHoodRat; that's Cherita. LOL

  • http://leaseacar.org.uk Lease a Car

    When LL initial pennyless the headlines in January that the town is profitable scarcely $2000 a month for Council Chairman Kwame.
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    Demin Martin

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