D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown’s failure to pay his District taxes and mortgage on time in recent years was always likely to become an issue in his bid for reelection this year.
Now, fresh records show he also may have had trouble paying his rent on time.
As The Washington Post reported in January 2011, Brown and his wife failed to make timely property tax payments on their $1.4 million Chevy Chase home, eventually accruing a past due balance of $14,263. Brown quickly paid off the debt once the story was published, but it helped highlight the council member’s ongoing financial challenges.
Brown makes $125,000 a year as a council member and takes home another $240,000 annually as an attorney, according to Brown’s most recent financial disclosure form.
But banks or mortgage lenders issued five notices of foreclosure sale from when he bought the house in 1996 through late 2010, according to records. None of the notices proceeded to auction.
More recently, records indicate that Brown has missed rent payments on two apartments that have been under his name at the Rittenhouse Apartments on 16th Street NW over the past two years.
On March 17, 2011, Rittenhouse LLC filed a compliant in D.C. Superior Court alleging that Brown had “failed to pay” $4,031 in rent. At the time, according to court documents, Brown’s rent was $1,709 a month.
Brown was summoned to an April 13, 2011, court hearing, but he failed to show up, records show. The case was dismissed four months later.
In an interview, Brown said he “didn’t know anything about” the March filing. He noted the dates on the court documents “didn’t make any sense” because they stated the total rent due was for “February 2011 to March 2010.”
“That was a mistake,” Brown said. “I don’t know anything about that…I know nothing about that.”
But Rittenhouse LLC filed another complaint against Brown on Jan. 13, after he moved into another unit in the building. Rittenhouse alleged Brown missed one month’s rent, $2,160, according to court records.
The company withdrew the complaint in early February. Complaints are usually withdrawn after the defendant settles the debt or agrees to a repayment plan.
Brown acknowledged the existence of the January filing and said he has fully paid that month’s rent.
“I was two or three days late,” Brown said. “I was a couple days late, and the management company chose to take this action, which they have every right to do. Rather then notifying me I was a couple days late, they chose to file, which is fine, but I paid well before anything happened.”
Rittenhouse’s assistant property manager declined to comment. Mark R. Raddatz, the attorney who represented Rittenhouse Apartments LLC, also declined to comment.
In the November general election, Brown is seeking his second term as one of four at-large council members. He will be competing against Council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At large), Republican Mary Brooks Beatty, Independent David Grosso and State Hood Green Party candidate Ann C. Wilcox.
Voters can select up two candidates, and the top two vote-getters will win at-large seats. With registered Democrats accounting for three out of every four registered D.C. voters, Orange is heavily favored to win the most votes.
Brown is also favored to win reelection. But Beatty, a former Ward 6 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, and Grosso, an attorney and activist from Ward 5, could mount a stiff challenge by hammering Brown over ethics and his status as an incumbent.
In April 2011, the Internal Revenue Service filed a $50,000 lien against Brown for failure to pay income taxes dating to 2004. According to a copy of the lien, Brown failed to pay $7,128 in 2004, $28,625 in 2005, $5,176 in 2007 and $11,951 in 2008.
Brown is on a repayment plan.