Something is Rotten in the District of Columbia
DC government stinks to high heaven. We know DC lawmakers are certainly not “bullet proof” to corruption but it’s disturbing they think they can engage in criminal behavior without retribution. DC 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.
When news broke of Brown’s conviction charge on bank fraud, no one was surprised except Mayor Vincent Gray because DC residents have come to expect the lowest common denominators to serve us in government. Mayor Vincent 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 DC government and the council in particular. He also knows the US Attorney’s office is investigating some alleged shady dealings by Gray and his 2010 mayoral campaign staff. My mother always says, “things happen in threes” both good and bad things. So, DC residents could see more convicted felons falling from our government ranks.
Kwame Brown pleaded 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 pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor campaign finance charge. The US Attorney’s office year long investigation also found Brown’s 2008 campaign failed to report $270,000 in campaign funds, made payments in cash exceeding $50, and discovered another $239,000 was diverted to a company run by his brother. Like Brown, Harry Thomas thought he was entitled to do as he pleased once he became an elected DC official and stole $350,000 from DC taxpayers.
A real indication of how “lost in arrogant space” Brown was can be seen in his resignation letter. Instead of apologizing profusely to DC 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, DC 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 Kwame Brown and Harry 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 their 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 and stop voting the same charming, bombastic buffoons into office. 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 more non-Democrat candidates to run for office because the primary races truly would be competitive and open, separating the wheat from the chafe. In other words candidates would have to have their act together because independents, Republicans and every other non-Democrat vote would count.
Voters also need to expand their political viewpoint and stop blindly voting for Democrats. There is no political diversity on the DC Council. It is a body of Democrats. With all the scandals and more on the horizon, I think it’s time for DC residents to try something new and give Republican candidates running for office serious consideration. Why not? What do DC residents have to lose? Nothing could be worse than the crop of Donkeys we’ve got, making asses of us all.