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Posted at 01:10 PM ET, 07/07/2011

D.C. elections board refers Kwame Brown campaign allegations to federal prosecutors

Update, 1:10 p.m.: A statement attributed to Brown's 2008 committee and distributed by his council staff said that the direct referral to federal authorities is “the most efficient course for this matter to follow.”

“The Committee is confident that an investigation by the Office of the United States Attorney will be thorough,” the statement said. “The Committee is equally confident that such an investigation will not find any criminal wrongdoing by the Committee, or those acting on behalf of the Committee.”

In brief remarks after leading a council hearing Thursday afternoon, Brown said he is "looking forward to moving forward and getting some closure.”

“I'm looking forward to a full investigation," he said.

Update, 11:35 a.m.: The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics voted Thursday to refer allegations of financial wrongdoing in Kwame Brown’s 2008 campaign to federal prosecutors for investigation.

“It means we think there’s criminal activity here that needs to be looked into,” said Togo West, explaining the board’s decision to refer the case.

The board did not consider whether to assess fines on Brown’s campaign for civil violations of campaign finance law, but West said it reserved the right to levy fines after the federal probe concludes.

William Miller, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., said the office was “aware” of the board's referral and “will take the information it provides into account as we continue to review this matter.”

Original post: An attorney for D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown said Brown wants federal prosecutors to investigate allegations of financial irregularities in his 2008 campaign.

Frederick D. Cooke Jr., representing Brown, asked the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics to delay its own decision on whether to sanction the campaign while the District’s U.S. attorney probes allegations of unreported contributions and expenditures.

“Let’s cut to the chase,” Cooke told the board, which then met privately Thursday to consider the request.

An audit released in April by the Office of Campaign Finance found that Brown’s campaign failed to report contributions and expenditures totaling more than $270,000. The audit also found that the campaign passed $239,000 to a company owned by Brown’s brother, Che Brown, via a now-defunct consulting firm. A later complaint from OCF alleged that Brown’s campaign failed to register a $60,000 bank account that Che Brown had control of.

William O. SanFord, general counsel for OCF, did not oppose Cooke’s request, and said that his office has already shared documents relating to the matter with federal investigators.

Board members were receptive as well.

“The U.S. attorney’s office has the FBI,” said Togo West, the board’s chair. “They can do this job quicker.”

Authorities have also criticized Brown’s recordkeeping. The campaign finance office “remains unable to verify the accuracy of receipts and reports” submitted by Brown’s campaign, SanFord told the board. He added that the office has requested records from Brown “on numerous occasions” and “failed to receive an affirmative response.”

Cooke said that Brown’s campaign has handed over the records it has in its possession.

This post has been updated since it was first published.

By  |  01:10 PM ET, 07/07/2011

 
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