A Kwame Brown Reader
D.C. Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown will resign his seat soon, he told colleagues today. Here are some past Washington City Paper stories about Brown:
Aug. 20, 2004: "Brown is the Manchurian Candidate of D.C. politics. The son of veteran pol Marshall Brown, the 33-year-old native Washingtonian seems groomed for this year’s contest. Brown often answers questions about education by focusing on his time spent at Phelps Vocational High School and Woodrow Wilson Senior High. He mentions his father’s work in the civil-rights movement and D.C. politics frequently."
Dec. 19, 2008: "The economy may be going to hell and inauguration fever might be the issue of the day, but it’s still Christmastime. Which means Wilson Building denizens are doing their annual gift exchange. Many opt for the classics: David Catania opted for his usual Godiva chocolates. Jack Evans is doling out classic works of literature. Yvette Alexander is giving out personalized holiday ornaments. Others take it to another level. To wit, At-Large Councilmember Kwame R. Brown, who is distributing to his colleagues custom bottles of hot sauce. Yep, that label features Brown together with the president-elect, along with the inscription: 'OBAMA-BROWN: The Year We Made History!!!'"
Feb. 5, 2010: "Kwame Brown now joins Vincent Gray, Michael A. Brown, and R. Donahue Peebles in the 'seriously considering' [a challenge to Adrian Fenty] camp. Brown has the strongest record among all of them in citywide races, running an insurgent campaign in 2004 to knock off incumbent Harold Brazil, and, in 2008, fending off all serious primary challengers and coasting to a landslide win. To date, Kwame Brown has been the most sheepish about his mayoral ambitions, though they clearly have long existed."
April 29, 2010: "Like the prince who dresses in rags to see how his subjects live, At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown has taken to dressing down and testing out city services. Unlike a fairy tale prince, though, he tweets about his adventures."
July 23, 2010: "Brown is up to his eyeballs in debt after a prolonged spending spree—that records and recent published accounts show included boats, luxury cars, and a Harley Davidson motorcycle—and wound up being sued by three credit card companies for more than $50,000. Public records show Brown also had four outstanding speeding tickets from his college days in Maryland in the early ’90s he never bothered to pay, and three unpaid District parking tickets from 2005. (Brown has since sold many of the luxury rides, including the Harley, and his campaign spokesman says the parking tickets are 'being taken care of.') Brown isn’t the only member of the council’s scofflaw club, but he is the only one running for chairman."
Jan. 24, 2011: "Council Chairman Kwame Brown, meanwhile, drives a 2011 Lincoln Navigator that costs $1,963.28 a month. Brown's contract does not mention whether his ride is 'fully loaded,' but LL hopes it is, based on what he's paying. Brown's contract also appears to show the monthly rate decreasing greatly after the first year. ... Brown's spokesman Traci Hughes says the chairman was 'appalled' at the cost of the Navigator's lease, when he was informed by Hughes as she sought comment after LL inquired about it. The Wilson Building rumor mill was working overtime last week, saying Brown had requested an SUV that looked exactly like the mayor's. Hughes says that's not true. Brown was only asked if he wanted a town car or an SUV, she says, and he replied that he wanted a black SUV with a black interior. Hughes says Brown has just received his own copy of the contract and is trying to determine if it would be more expensive in the long run to back out of the deal, or just swallow the cost."
June 2, 2011: "Turns out that Council Chairman Kwame 'Fully Loaded' Brown didn't just reject one pricey SUV, he rejected two. We all know by now that Brown made the city order him a second luxury Lincoln Navigator because he didn't like the first one's gray interior. But what's been undisclosed, til now, is that Brown also turned up his nose at a 2011 Chevy Tahoe because, according to an email between Department of Public Works staff, he wanted a Navigator just like the mayor's. Emails obtained through multiple Freedom of Information Act requests show that in the fall of 2010, DPW wanted to lease the incoming chairman a new Chevy Tahoe, the same model the outgoing chairman (who, you may recall, was getting a promotion to mayor) had driven. But there was a problem: a leased Tahoe wasn't immediately available. So DPW rented Brown a 2011 Tahoe for the two months between the general election and his swearing-in. The price: $3,659.58."
July 20, 2011: "Few actual voters may care what committee Tommy Wells—or any councilmember—sits on, but everyone loves a good revenge story.
And that’s exactly how Wells spun his demotion: Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown was punishing Wells because he’s had the audacity to investigate why Brown put the city on the hook for two luxury Lincoln Navigators. Despite (or because of) Brown’s meek and unbelievable protestations that the Navigator investigation had nothing to do with the reshuffling, the media went nuts. TV outlets got to dust off b-roll footage of Brown’s old Navigator, columnists and editorial pages got to rake Brown over the coals, and Wells was turned into a good government martyr almost overnight. There’s certainly some truth to Wells’ narrative. Brown’s assertions that he’s not punishing Wells over Navigatorgate are about as believable as his lame assertions that he had nothing to do with specifically requesting Navigators in the first place. But it’s not the whole story, and Brown did not act alone. Every councilmember voted to give Wells the boot, save for Wells, in one of the more awkward council votes in recent memory."
Sept. 20, 2011: "Running a municipal government is inherently nonidealistic. For all the talk about their history, the legacy legislators are the sons of officials whose careers involved the unromantic work of raising political funds, apportioning budgets, or lining up get-out-the-vote efforts—stuff that doesn’t lend itself to March on Washington rhetoric, no matter how noble the pol. Growing up, these sons were liable to have learned just as much about the short-term art of the deal as about the long-term arc of justice; politics, as the cliché goes, is the art of the possible. It’s a lesson their critics say they’ve overlearned."
Feb. 2, 2012: "A former campaign consultant for Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown says he gave the FBI financial records last summer but hasn't been in contact with federal authorities since. Charles Hawkins' Banner Consulting was paid $380,000 by Brown's 2008 reelection campaign. An audit by the Office of Campaign Finance shows that Banner paid $240,000 to a company owned by Brown's brother,Che Brown. Several of the payments from the campaign to Banner found their way to Che Brown's company 'in close proximity to the time frames if not the same day and the same amounts,' the audit says."
Feb. 23, 2012: "A year and a day ago, Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown bowed to a tidal wave of public pressure and returned the fully loaded, tax-payer funded, nearly $2,000-a-month Lincoln Navigator he was driving. At that time, Brown promised to reimburse the District for his 'share of the use of the vehicle' after Attorney General Irv Nathan renegotiated the contract with the company that leased the city the Navigator. You may recall that Brown rejected a similar Navigator because of its color scheme; he never indicated he would reimburse the District for the costs associated with that vehicle. Fast forward to today and the tale of Brown's misadventures in Navigatorland is still unresolved. First, there's the matter of Brown's repayment, or lack thereof. A spokesman for the Office of the Chief Financial Officer says there's no record of any Navigator-related payment from Brown."
Photo by Darrow Montgomery