Kwame Brown details $45,000 in outside income
The Washington Times on Tuesday published a story raising anew longstanding questions about D.C. Council members' outside employment and whether the public is sufficiently protected against conflicts of interest.
A new revelation was that Kwame R. Brown, now the Council's chairman, reported $45,000 in outside income in 2010, while serving as an at-large member. (As chairman, he is now prohibited from holding an outside job.)
According to current city ethics laws, Brown is not required to report the source of the income unless it is an entity currently or prospectively doing business with the District government.
Brown did not respond to questions from Times reporter Jim McElhatton about that income. I followed up with Brown spokesperson Traci Hughes, who said earlier today that the income came from consulting work for two firms -- Fuse, a St. Louis-based advertising firm, and Brown Technology Group, a Chantilly systems-integration firm.
Executives at both firms said today that Brown helped them pursue business opportunities with the federal government. Brown was an appointed official in the federal Commerce Department during the Clinton administration and thus has some knowledge of federal contracting practices.
"He was very helpful," said Cliff Franklin, CEO of Fuse, who met Brown at a Dartmouth College executive training course and referred to him as "a smart guy, a good guy."
Franklin said Brown did work starting in 2008 before stepping down in late 2009. "Kwame's busy with his career, too. He's just busy," he said.
Reginald L. Brown, CEO of Brown Technology Group and no relation to the politico, said also praised his work "opening doors" in federal government,
"There's a maze; you have to get through that maze," said Reginald Brown. "He provided us with some insight." Kwame Brown resigned as a consultant after he decided to pursue the council chairmanship.
There is a complication: Brown Technology lists the D.C. government as a customer on its website -- raising the prospect that Kwame Brown should have disclosed a potential conflict of interest on his financial disclosure form.
Reginald Brown said that his firm never held a direct contract with the District government, only a single subcontract with IT services giant CIBER Inc., which in 2010 held District contracts through the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. The subcontracting arrangement, he said, was entered into after Kwame Brown had resigned from the firm.
A review of recent city spending records shows no direct payments to Brown Technology Group.