Brown's campaigns paid friends, family

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Local,DC,Freeman Klopott
D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown's campaigns have a history of hiring companies owned by close friends that then paid his family members.

An audit of Brown's 2008 re-election campaign for an at-large council seat revealed this week that Brown paid nearly $400,000 for get-out-the-vote efforts to Banner Consulting, which was owned by the treasurer of his 2004 campaign. Banner then in turn hired Partners in Learning, owned by Brown's brother Che Brown, and paid it $240,000 to provide the same services, the audit by the office of campaign finance said.

In 2004, when Brown first ran for office, a similar system ended with cash payments for his brother and father, campaign finance reports and media reports at the time show.

Three days after Brown won the Sept. 14, 2004, Democratic primary, he hired Capitol Solutions Group LLC. The company was owned by Kevin McGhaw, who had run Brown's campaign through the primary. Finance reports show the 2004 campaign has since paid $78,400 to Capitol Solutions. The majority of payments ??-- $64,000 -- were made in 2004, but the most recent was for $3,333 on July 31, 2010.

Che Brown and his father, Marshall Brown, told the Washington Post in January 2005 that Capitol Solutions paid them a total of $7,500 for working on the 2004 campaign. The two had been paid about $24,000 directly by Brown's campaign from August 2004 through May 2004, but the payments stopped after Brown's opponents criticized him because of them, media reports said.

Che Brown has not responded to requests for comment from The Washington Examiner.

Other campaigns have hired Capitol Solutions, including Linda Cropp's 2006 mayoral campaign. Finance records show the company was also sometimes reported as Capital Solutions, and when Cropp hired the company, payments totaling $382,000 were sent to Marshall Brown's address on 16th Street NW. Payments from Kwame Brown's campaigns went to a post office box in Maryland.

Attempts to reach Marshall Brown through at-large Councilman Sekou Biddle's campaign were unsuccessful Wednesday. Biddle has paid Marshall Brown $5,000 for a "salary/stipend" as Biddle fights to retain his seat in an April 26 special election.

Kwame Brown hired both companies - Capitol Solutions and Banner - at times when his campaigns appeared to need little help. In the 2005 Washington Post article, Brown said he hired Capitol Solutions even though his victory in the primary all but ensured success in the general election because he "wanted to win and get a mandate."

Brown told The Examiner Tuesday that he raised and spent $825,000 for a race when he ran uncontested in the 2008 Democratic primary because he wanted to overwhelm the opposition.

"When you talk about Kwame Brown and talk about how we campaign, we are the best ground operation this city has ever seen," he said.

fklopott@washingtonexaminer.com

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Freeman Klopott

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner