On Friday, the ex-Chairman of the District of Columbia Council, Kwame Brown, pleaded guilty to lying about how much his income was on applications for bank loans. This was just one more blow to the city government that has been rocked of late by scandal. Brown also pled to a charge of campaign finance violation, which is a misdemeanor. This brought to an end a difficult week for the ex-council head in which he gave up his position as one of the most influential city powerbrokers.
The departure of Brown creates even more turnover of the governing body of the city and follows another resignation of a councilmember who stole public funds that were earmarked for sports programs for the city’s youth. The city is in a tailspin, as the federal probe investigating the 2010 campaign of Mayor Gray has produced two pleas of guilty by campaign aides and now this Brown scandal.
The District of Columbia has only 13 members in its governing body and effectively functions like a state legislature, but it operates just over two blocks from the White House making cases of corrupt public officials even more heightened and significant.
Investigations that have been long running are now yielding major developments. Brown’s plea on Friday was the latest. He resigned just hours following his charges of falsifying what he earned on loan applications to received home equity loans and a powerboat loan. He also admitted to forging his friend’s signature and listing him falsely as an employer, and altering income documents to inflate the amount of his earnings.