“I had reached my limit,” said Lewis Thomas, who managed the independent candidate’s bid for an at-large seat from May until September in 2008. “He wouldn’t show up to events, would come to events late, and didn’t want to do the work because he has the strongest sense of entitlement that I have ever seen
. . .
and the greatest form of arrogance I have seen.”
In interviews, nearly a dozen people affiliated with the 2008 campaign voiced similar concerns: Brown was aloof, a poor manager and had trouble keeping his campaign finances in order.
Brown won the race. But those campaign officials say their experiences offer a window into the troubles Brown is facing now, as he runs for reelection — a run that has been marred by an audit that shows that more than $100,000 is missing from his campaign coffers, and a very public dispute with his former treasurer as to who is to blame.
Brown, the son of late commerce secretary Ronald H. Brown, declined to address the criticism from his former staff. “I’ m not going to comment on the past campaign. I’m worried about this campaign,” Brown said.
But Asher Corson, Brown’s spokesman, released a statement later questioning the motives of the former staffers.
“It is unfortunate that four years later, former disgruntled campaign workers are taking their gripes to the media,” Corson said.
The criticism brings to the surface a trail of ruined relationships between Brown and many of the political professionals who helped put him in office four years ago. The public criticism is rare, as many of these officials’ livelihoods depend on solid relationships with politicians.
“He has just been horrible across the board,” said Julius Henson, a Baltimore-based Democratic strategist who took over when Thomas quit. “Every political bridge, every supporter who has helped him, I don’t know anybody who would be willing to help him today.”
Brown is competing in the Nov. 6 election against six other candidates for two citywide council seats, one of which is reserved for a non-Democrat.
Although Brown is favored, his opponents are trying to persuade voters that his personal issues — including struggling to pay his taxes, mortgage and rent on time, and five suspensions of his driver’s license over the past eight years — should disqualify him from the job. His opponents also say that Brown’s oversight of his campaign should be an issue for voters, particularly as a federal investigation into the 2010 campaign of Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) has clouded Gray’s administration.
In 2009, after Brown defeated five other candidates, an Office of Campaign Finance audit found that he failed to properly document nearly $100,000 in contributions or loans, about $155,000 in expenditures, and bouned $80,000 in checks.