Crystal Wright is a contributor for The Root DC and is the editor of the political site Conservative Black Chick.
This story has been updated to reflect the following correction: Mr. Brown was not charged with violating DC campaign finance laws by making expeditures in cash over $50. He pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation stemming from an unreported side bank account opened by a relative during his 2008 campaign.
D.C. government stinks to high heaven. We know too many D.C. lawmakers are certainly not “bullet proof” to corruption but it’s disturbing they think they can engage in criminal behavior without retribution. D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown became the second member of the body forced to resign from office in disgrace this year on the heels of council member Harry Thomas’s resignation and conviction.
When news broke that Brown plead guilty to bank fraud, apparently no one was surprised except Mayor Vincent Gray because D.C. residents have come to expect the lowest common denominators to serve us in government. Gray tweeted: “I’m shocked, disappointed & saddened by today’s news; I served alongside Mr. Brown on Council & never would’ve imagined something like this.”
I doubt Gray was shocked in the least because he knows the culture of entitlement pervading D.C. government and the council in particular. He also knows the U.S. Attorney’s office is investigating some alleged shady dealings by the Gray campaign. My mother always says, “things” — both good and bad — “happen in threes” So, D.C. residents could see more convicted felons falling from our government ranks.
Frankly, D.C. voters need to expand their political viewpoint and stop blindly voting for Democrats. There is no political diversity on the D.C. Council. It is a body of Democrats and left leaning politicians. With all the scandals and perhaps more on the horizon, I think it’s time for D.C. residents to try something new and give Republican candidates running for office serious consideration. Why not? What do D.C. residents have to lose?
Look at the current mess: Brown plead guilty to bank fraud for overstating his income so he could secure a home equity loan to buy a boat he ironically christened “Bullet Proof.” Brown also admitted to a misdemeanor campaign finance violation stemming from an unreported side bank account. Like Brown, Harry Thomas thought he was entitled to do as he pleased once he became an elected D.C. official and stole $350,000 from D.C. taxpayers.
A real indication of how “lost in arrogant space” Brown was can be seen in his resignation letter. Instead of apologizing profusely to D.C. voters whom he serves at the pleasure of and to whom he must hold himself accountable, Brown offered an “unconditional apology to the members of the Council for all the negative attention that my conduct has brought about.” What’s revealing in this statement is Brown like many members of the council think they are more beholden to each other than the people they serve, and this is where in the problem lies.
What’s disturbing is once elected, some D.C. lawmakers seem to think they are immune to the laws of the land and more importantly standards of ethics and decency to which elected officials should feel compelled to adhere.
Equally repugnant, it seems the only thing Brown and Thomas knew how to do well was run for public office and be “third rate petty crooks, liars and hypocrites,” as Washington Post columnist Colbert King described. Because neither knew what else to do but abuse political power, both clung to their positions until the bitter end, only resigning when the heat of the law was poised to come down on them like a guillotine.
District residents need to raise the bar on our elected officials. We should start by changing the elections laws in the Democrat dominated District of Columbia to allow for open primaries where all voters regardless of political party can vote.
This would encourage greater voter turnout and candidates other than Democrats to run for office because the primary races truly would be competitive and open, separating the wheat from the chaff. Candidates would have to have their act together because independents of different perspectives, Republicans and every other non-Democrat vote would count.
Follow Crystal Wright on Twitter here.
Read more on The Root DC