District Digest: Kwame’s crimes and misdemeanors
This week in D.C. news features Kwame Brown’s fraud charges, Capital Pride back in action, Corcoran Museum’s plans to sell the Beaux-Arts building and Councilmember Jack Evans getting a little feisty on Twitter.
Kwame, Fully loaded
Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud, a federal felony, after resigning his City Council seat on Wednesday. Back in 2007 Brown submitted falsified loan applications, one of which was to finance his ironically-named boat, “Bullet Proof.” He exaggerated his income, forged a signature and changed a 3 to an 8 (on two occasions).
Yesterday, prosecutors charged Brown with violating the District’s campaign finance laws during his 2008 reelection campaign. Prosecutors alleged that Brown authorized a family member to establish a “side account” for campaign contributions, which he used to make under-the-table expenditures in excess of $50. Failing to report expenditures of that size is a misdemeanor. Today, Brown gave a less-than-contrite acknowledgment of his campaign finance transgressions.
As reported by Washington City Paper, Brown gave a statement to reporters as he left the federal courthouse after pleading guilty to the felony bank charge. “I am guilty to knowing that poll workers and others received more than $50 in cash payments for doing campaign work, which is and has been done in this city for years,” he said. “I believe I’m the…only candidate who has ever been charged—with a misdemeanor.”
Here’s a handy summary of the “Fully Loaded” saga.
Brown’s resignation has left a lot of folks wondering who will take his spot. As provided by the Home Rule Charter, the City Council will select an interim replacement and a chairman pro tempore from among the at-large councilmembers, until the next general election on Nov. 6 (details). That decision might prove unexpectedly consequential: if Mayor Vince Gray were to cut his term short for some reason, the City Council Chairman would become Mayor for the time being.
And enter a intra-Council showdown between two at-large councilmembers, Vincent Orange and Phil Mendelson. Support appears to be coalescing around Phil Mendelson. Dubbed D.C.’s most boring politician, Mendelson get the most-improved award from the WaPo editorial board. Maybe all Mendo needs is a new nickname.
Capital Pride is here (it’s queer, get used to it). Just in time, Borderstan recently released the results of his “Where’s the Gay Neighborhood in D.C.?” survey. Logan Circle has solidly dethroned Dupont Circle as the gayborhood du jour, with “This is such as 1970s question” not too far behind. For those interested, here’s a Voice feature about Dupont’s history of LGBT activism.
The Corcoran Museum might be looking to sell the iconic Beaux-Arts building it moved into 115 years ago. The board of trustees voted unanimously to have the building appraised. The museum is privately funded—and facing some pretty major financial woes. The NY Times reports that the museum’s director and chief executive officer, Fred Bollerer, has called their operations “unsustainable.” One of City Paper’s sources presented the decision as a product of the museum’s new leadership.
In 2009, fearing deficits of $3-4 million, the Corcoran commissioned a $600,000 “strategic management plan” from a firm called Real Change. The same year Bollerer, a venture capitalist associated with Real Change, was appointed chief operating officer, later to be promoted to his current position. All of this was under the guidance of then newly-appointed board chairman Harry F. Hopper III.
Bollerer and Hopper are framing the sale as a moment opportunity. Their joint statement points out that the building requires $100 million in renovations (not too far under the building’s $112 million assessed value). According to the Post, Bollerer said it would actually cost $130 million to bring the Corcoran building up to “modern museum standards.”
Our very own Councilmember Jack Evans got a little sassy yesterday on the Twitter. Here’s the exchange: