Sunday, July 10, 2016

Congresswoman Corrine Brown: Indicted ... by gimleteye

Jacksonville Congresswoman Corrine Brown was indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption charges this week, related to her involvement in a Virginia charity.

Brown, a fixture in the Florida Congressional delegation, achieved notoriety when she challenged unsuccessfully the Fair Districts measure supported by fellow Democrats to eliminate gerrymandered districts like Congressional district 5.

Last April 18, a Federal three judge panel ruled against Brown’s challenge to the reconfiguration.

One anonymous commentator observed: "Corrine, like others seems to have been more interested in sustaining and allegedly abusing her power, rather than authentically representing Floridians. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether you are a die-hard Democrat or a right-wing Republican. Some folks’ addiction to power and influence is never sufficiently quenched. For some, it’s mainly or only the need to be re-elected that forces their ear to the ground. Otherwise, they feel they are above reproach and act out in self-serving ways. Corrine is no different from other Florida egomaniacs who thrived on gerrymandering. She got caught."

Brown could go to jail for 350 years if convicted and sentenced for the 22 counts brought against her. One could say that when Florida Republicans needed a Democrat to fight in court against Fair Districts, they targeted one whose political sinecure depended, as did Brown's, on a blatantly gerrymandered district. But that would be un-charitable.

Florida Times Union, Jacksonville
Corrine Brown: Decades of drama
By Steve Paterson Fri, Jul 8, 2016 @ 4:22 pm | updated Fri, Jul 8, 2016 @ 9:02 pm

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown has spent decades in the public spotlight, fighting for her causes and weathering controversies.

October 1982: Brown, a 35-year-old Florida Junior College faculty member, wins a seat in the Florida House of Representatives, following the example of a sorority sister, Gwen Cherry, the first black woman elected to that body. She’s reelected over and over after that.

September 1990: Encouraged by Brown, Jacksonville officials redirect federal grant money out of other projects and into the One Stop Economic Development Center, a business incubator started by a friend, Rev. Alvin Moore. The federal government later tells the city to pay back $313,818 One Stop consumed.

May 1992: After gathering money for a state Senate race, Brown decides instead to run in the newly-drawn 3rd Congressional District, a wishbone-shaped, black-majority area crossing 14 counties. A federal court drew the district — touching Gainesville, Lake City, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Daytona Beach and Orlando — after the Legislature failed to agree on boundaries. “This is an opportunity that I never thought would exist in my lifetime,” she said.

November 1992: Brown beats Republican Don Weidner in a district that is 76 percent Democrat. Brown and two other African-American politicians, Alcee Hastings and Carrie Meek, become the first sent to Congress from Florida since the 1870s.

December 1993: Florida Commission on Ethics ends an investigation of Brown’s time in the Florida House with her stipulating to a misuse of public position (knowingly or not) that involved state employees working in Springfield Travel Agency, a business Brown owned. Brown agrees to pay the state $5,000.

November 1994: A Federal Election Commission audit says Brown’s 1992 campaign violated a series of campaign finance laws, from using a corporate plane without showing she paid for it to taking donations from companies and foreign citizens. Many errors were corrected, but not all, the audit says.

April 1998: The St. Petersburg Times reports Brown received a $10,000 personal check, not listed on campaign finance reports, from Rev. Henry Lyons, who was eventually imprisoned for misusing $4 million from the National Baptist Convention USA. Brown says the check paid for buses to a Tallahassee rally defending her district boundaries.

June 1998: As a member of the House transportation committee, Brown is among those shepherding passage of TEA-21, a transportation bill that began changes to a roadwork funding formula that repaid Florida 77 cents for each $1 of federal gas taxes it collected. A recent version pledges 95 cents on the dollar to Florida.

September 2000: House ethics committee drops an investigation of Brown’s relationship with Foutanga Dit Babani Sissoko, a rich, incarcerated African businessman she tried to have freed. An acquaintance later gave a $50,000 Lexus to Brown’s daughter, Shantrel Brown. Sissoko had left the country by the time that came to light, and the committee says he was “beyond the reach of the committee’s subpoena power.”

July 2004: During debate in Congress, Brown calls the 2000 election of President George W. Bush a “coup d’etat” and says Republicans “stole the election.” (Bush was awarded Florida’s electoral votes after a flawed election where many votes, often by black Democrats, were rejected as being cast improperly.) Her comments are stricken from the congressional record and the House votes to rebuke her.

October 2004: Corrine’s Quick Picks, the ballot-style endorsement sheets Brown distributed in bulk before elections, surface at early voting sites. Brown says later she launched the sheets to prevent a repeat of voting problems in 2000.

May 2005: News coverage of Brown questions the impact of lobbying by her daughter on behalf of Edward Waters College. Brown had successfully pushed for $4.7 million in funding for the historic Jacksonville school in the previous budget year.

August 2008: When Tropical Storm Fay inundates Jacksonville, a Mayor’s Office decision to send city workers and sandbags to protect Brown’s Trout River home outrages critics who see favoritism. Then-Mayor John Peyton says an aide, who once worked for Brown, was wrong to order the bags but acted compassionately. Brown pledges to pay the city’s $886 cost.

November 2010: With U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Brown sues to invalidate a constitutional amendment about district boundaries that voters approved the same day she was reelected with 68 percent of the votes in her district.

April 2011: Leesburg, Va. resident Carla Wiley files paperwork with her state to incorporate One Door for Education — Amy Anderson Scholarship Fund, an organization Brown with which will be very involved. Wiley tells the state it will be a nonprofit, but the Internal Revenue Service never recognizes it as a charity.

February 2012: The Washington Post reports Brown helped secure $21.9 million of earmarked funding from 2005 to 2010 for six clients of Alcalde & Fay, the lobbying firm where her daughter is a partner.

July 2013: Working with One Door, Brown oversees a $250-per-player golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass billed as a fundraiser for nonprofits and the scholarship fund of a transportation industry group.

May 2014: With Brown among the loudest advocates, Congress passes legislation that includes deepening of Jacksonville’s St. Johns River shipping channel among a slew of projects the Army Corps of Engineers is authorized to pursue. Funding for that project, estimated around $700 million, is not part of the measure.

July 2014: A circuit judge in Tallahassee strikes down congressional district lines drawn by the 2012 Florida Legislature, saying Brown’s district and others violate the “Fair Districts” requirements Brown had sued to stop. The Florida Supreme Court agrees in July 2015.

January 2015: Brown becomes ranking member of House Veterans’ Affairs committee.

December 2015: The Florida Supreme Court approves new boundaries for Brown’s district running west from Jacksonville to Gadsden County, after the Florida Legislature meets in special session but fails to reach agreement.

January 4: Federal agents deliver a subpoena to Brown while she meets with activists inside Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q on Norwood Avenue. Brown says it’s politically motivated, but won’t discuss what the subpoena said. Von Alexander, a staff member who also subcontracts for work at the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, is visited by agents the same day.

March 4: Wiley pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud with an unnamed public official, signing a statement of facts that describes the 2013 golf tournament and says money raised there didn’t go to charity.

March 23: House ethics committee says it will investigate whether Brown broke tax laws, made false statements or failed to make required disclosures, but will wait until the Justice Department finishes its own investigation.

March 25: Brown is back in Tallahassee federal court, arguing to retain north-south boundaries in a Jacksonville-to-Orlando district.

June 22: After losing in federal court and appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, Brown drops the appeal and acccepts the new district lines.


alcrespo said...

And here is Miami, David Rivera just keeps laughing.

Anonymous said...

Miami voted out Rivera and Garcia after single terms. Why did Jacksonville keep electing Brown year after year?

Anonymous said...

Corrine Brown is the Michelle Spence-Jones of Jacksonville. Just another crook taking money from the taxpayers. Hopefully Brown will get jail time and lose her taxpayer funded pensions.