Michael Brown discloses ‘unauthorized disbursements’ from campaign

Posted at 04:07 PM ET, 06/28/2012

Michael Brown discloses ‘unauthorized disbursements’ from campaign

By Mike DeBonis

Brown is seeking a second term as an at-large independent. (Michael Temchine – FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown said Thursday that police are investigating “unauthorized disbursements” from his campaign account.

A statement issued by the Brown campaign did not disclose the amount of money at stake but said the expenditures had been made by an “individual who has assisted my campaigns for over five years.”

Brown, seeking a second term as an at-large independent, said he discovered the issue while “personally reviewing” his campaign records last Friday. “Upon discovering this disturbing fact, I immediately contacted the Metropolitan Police Department and have since been working in cooperation with the MPD investigation of this matter,” he said in the statement. Police had no immediate comment.

Brown said he has assumed the duties of campaign treasurer, taking over from Hakim J. Sutton, a veteran campaign organizer in the city who has previously worked on campaigns for council members Marion Barry and Kathleen Patterson, as well as Brown’s 2008 campaign.

Sutton declined to comment Thursday afternoon, saying he had just learned of the issue.

According to the most recent report filed with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, Brown’s campaign has taken in nearly $148,000 and has spent about $32,000. The campaign reported having $115,515 on hand as of June 10; Sutton signed the report.

In his statement, Brown said he would seek to have an independent auditor review his books “to ensure that all campaign finance activities meet the strictest fiduciary standard.” Caught in his John A. Wilson Building office, he declined to elaborate further. “Maybe later,” he said.

One of his campaign opponents, David Grosso, immediately responded, tweeting that Brown “can’t handle money in any aspect of his life — personal, campaign and of course legislative” — a seeming reference to Brown’s personal financial woes.

Staff writer Tim Craig contributed to this post.

For D.C., ‘there will never be enough parking’

For D.C., ‘there will never be enough parking’

June 27, 2012


A car in the District gets a parking citation. Parking spots are one of the city’s most in-demand resources and the D.C. Council heard about a variety of parking complaints on June 27. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner file photo)

Liz Essley

Staff writer – transportation

The Washington Examiner

@lizessley

District residents drive around for hours looking for parking in their neighborhoods. Contractors working in those neighborhoods cope with stacks of parking tickets because they can’t find legal spots to park their trucks. D.C. natives go to movies in Maryland instead of downtown because the suburbs have more parking.

Such were the problems outlined for D.C. council members Wednesday at a hearing dealing with one of the city’s most in-demand resources: parking spaces.

"There will never be enough parking for everyone who wants it. So we have to use it more efficiently," Councilmember Tommy Wells, D-Ward 6, said.

Transportation experts advocated for a counter-intuitive approach to the problem. Instead of providing more parking, they said, take parking away to encourage people to take the bus, Metro or to walk.

Brookings Institution expert Christopher Leinberger told Wells and Councilmember Mary Cheh, D-Ward 3, that District residents weren’t paying enough for parking. Residents pay $35 per year for a residential parking space, but the spaces are worth about $10,000 to $60,000 per year, so D.C. is offering unfair subsidies to car drivers, he said.

"A $10,000 parking space should cost $100 per month. That’s the market value. So that’s a massive subsidy," he said.

Others said D.C. needed to stop giving the impression that parking should be free. David Alpert, of Greater Greater Washington, said the District doesn’t give out free bus passes, and it shouldn’t provide free parking either.

But Wells hinted that politicians wouldn’t be hiking parking rates across the board any time soon, saying that after he introduced parking changes in his ward, a local pub hanged him in effigy in a T-shirt that read, "One term Tommy."

"You all are very smart folks," Wells told those who testified. "We up here have to get elected. We’re not free to do what we think is the right thing all the time. … The greatest temptation of a politician is to hand out free parking."

The meeting followed a public outcry earlier this year over a proposal to require disabled people to pay for parking at special red-top meters.

Vincent Gray gets serious about campaign finance reform

Posted at 07:48 PM ET, 06/25/2012

Vincent Gray gets serious about campaign finance reform

By Mike DeBonis, Washington Post

Nathan wasn’t shy about decrying “pay to play” perception. (Bill O’Leary – WASHINGTON POST) Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) released his long-promised campaign finance reform package today, but in an odd manner: He was halfway around the world while his attorney general outlined the legislation to the D.C. Council.

For an embattled public official eager to show he’s serious about regaining the public trust, it was an odd choice. But Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) picked today for a hearing on a trio of previous campaign finance proposals, and Gray wasn’t postponing his big China trip.

That said — and, also said, that Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan brought no actual legislation to the hearing today — Gray’s proposal is sweeping and serious, drawing on deep research into campaign finance laws elsewhere.

How serious is it? For one, Nathan repeatedly used the term “pay to play,” a term that’s not exactly flung casually around the John A. Wilson Building these days. He acknowledged that waning public trust is a problem, that “it is imperative to protect the contracting process from undue political influence or even the appearance of such influence.”

For another, Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), who saw his own anti-pay-to-play proposals voted down 1-12 by colleagues, told Nathan he would be “greatly heartened” if the council passed his proposals. But he added that he’d be “stunned” if his colleagues did so: “If anything like this was passed … it would be gutted first.”

Here’s what Nathan outlined in his testimony:

• Those who have or are bidding on city contracts would be barred from making campaign donations to any candidate who could be involved in the contract approval process. They would also be barred from giving to any entity in which such an official has a financial interest — a nonprofit organization, for instance. Such curbs would also apply to “those who seek large grants from the government.”

• Corporations that contribute to a candidate would be required to identify major shareholders as well as affiliated and subsidiary companies. Those shareholders would have those corporate donations counted against their personal contribution limit. That’s already the law, but there are loopholes and enforcement gaps galore.

• Transparency requirements would be toughened: Electronic campaign finance disclosures would be mandatory, campaigns would have to file daily activity reports during the final 30 days before an election, and independent committees would have to certify they have not coordinated with a candidate or party.

• Lobbyists would be prohibited from bundling donations, in the sense of “collecting contributions from multiple contributors, taking possession of such contributions, or delivering such contributions directly or indirectly” to a candidate.

• Candidates would be “held accountable for what their political committees do” — meaning they can’t plead ignorance when their campaigns break the law. Nathan was vague on what precisely that would entail, but candidates would have to certify that their campaigns have followed the law and have notified donors of their legal obligations.

What isn’t contemplated in the Gray/Nathan’s proposal is a flat ban on corporate donations to candidates, which is the aim of the Initiative 70 effort. Nathan pooh-poohed that approach as not “refined.”

“I think we need to focus on what the problem is and try to deal with the problem, and not just take a meat ax to it and just deal with it in a wholesale way,” he said.

In his testimony, Nathan explicitly mentioned “the value of allowing others, including organizations, to exercise their constitutional rights to disseminate their views on important public issues and to support financially the candidates they favor.” He also questioned, given the current state of campaign finance jurisprudence, how long such a ban might remain constitutional: “If you read the logic of Citizens United, it doesn’t take a prophet to see where things are heading.”

So how fast might these proposals move toward becoming law? It’ll be September at the earliest — Nathan said his office won’t have actual legislation for lawmakers to consider until the second week of July, just as the council starts its summer recess. Bowser said she’s convene a group of residents, businesses, and others to weigh in on the proposed changes in the interim.

CAR CRIMES: THIEVES ARE PLUNDERING PARKED CARS

AAA News Release: 6/25/2012

CAR BREAK-INS ON THE RISE AS PURLOINING THIEVES PLUNDER PARKED CARS AND PILFER THEIR WAY THROUGH PARKING LOTS IN THE METRO AREA

CAR CRIMES: THIEVES ARE PLUNDERING PARKED CARS

AND PARKING LOTS THROUGHOUT THE METRO AREA

Thefts from Cars Constitute the Lion’s Share – Nearly 85% – Of All Car-Related Thefts

WASHINGTON, D. C. (Monday, June 25, 2012) – Not too long ago worried car owners were doing everything in their power to protect themselves from carjackers and their cars from professional car thieves. Now they are concerned about thefts from their cars, and for good reason. It happened more than seven thousand times in the District last year and the year before that too.

Would-be car thieves and other brazen bandits are changing their tactics and going after easier pickings – car components, cash, coins, and, even clothes, left inside the car and the trunk, warn local police officials and AAA Mid-Atlantic. To throw you off-guard, they are striking in broad daylight and under the cloak of night.

“It’s a strange reversal, car thefts are down across the Washington metro area, but car break-ins are on the increase, as wily thieves shift their patterns and habits to take advantage of unsuspecting motorists,” noted John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “First things first: don’t be complacent about this. Just lock your vehicle before you leave it on the street, in a public garage, or in a parking lot. It covers a multitude of sins and it is one of the most effective ways of preventing your car from being stolen or broken into. Number two: make sure to remove all valuables from view. To do otherwise would only attract thieves.”

Thefts From Vehicles In Washington, D.C.*

Year Number of Incidents
2010 7,000 vehicle larcenies
2011 7,841 vehicle larcenies
2012 (Through June 12) 3,261 vehicle larcenies

The problem is widespread, in fact. So far this year, thieves have stolen objects from more than three thousand automobiles in Washington, D.C., according to preliminary crime figures from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). It is also happening on residential streets in the nation’s capital; in Metro garages and parking lots and even along the quiet streets and driveways in Culpeper, Virginia. These days, theft from cars comprises “about 85 percent of all car-related thefts,” according to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing.

As of June 12, 2012, thieves have stolen items from 3,261 vehicles in Washington, D.C. proper, statistics from the Metropolitan Police Department show. During 2011, lawbreakers looted valuables from 7,841 vehicles in the District, compared to the 7,000 vehicles ransacked in the city a year earlier, during 2010. That’s not the only hotspot for such thievery.

Thefts From Vehicles At Metro Stations

Time Period Caper
July Through December 2010 203 larcenies from autos + 53 thefts of auto parts and accessories
July Through December 2011 180 larcenies from autos + 31 thefts of auto parts and accessories

Last month, nine cars were stolen by devious crooks from Metro parking lots and garages and there were nineteen police-reported cases of thefts from automobiles, according to the Metro Transit Police Blotter. What’s more, there were ten attempted motor vehicle thefts at Metro sites during the period from May 2 through May 31, 2012, an analysis of the crime data by AAA Mid-Atlantic shows.

In the six-month period from July to December 2010, there were 203 cases of larceny from autos in Metro’s parking facilities and 53 cases of thefts of auto parts and accessories in Metro’s parking facilities, compared to 108 auto thefts or attempted auto thefts, according to an analysis of Metro Transit Police Department’s (MTPD) security reports issued in December 2011 and March 2012.

That compares to a slight decrease of 180 auto-related larcenies, 31 thefts of auto parts and accessories, and 53 auto thefts or attempts to pull off the crime in the period from July to December 2011. Year-to-year, there were 299 reported larcenies in 2010 and 266 police-reported cases of the crime in 2011, notes the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which operates parking facilities at 42 Metrorail stations, including 49 parking lots.

The crime includes “the thefts of items left in cars, thefts of interior components such as radios or batteries, and thefts of external parts such as wheels,” adds the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing. It is a crime of opportunity. Quick on their feet and with their hands, the thieves “can smash a window, reach in and grab an item and be gone in a matter of seconds,” the police say, “before your car theft protection alarm is even activated.”

Of course, no one is blaming the victim, but here’s the dirty little secret contributing to the crime spree. A large number of vehicles targeted by the vehicle break-in artists were unintentionally left unlocked by absentminded owners, police officials say.

You really don’t need to be in a big city, or park under bright lights to have your car plundered by wily thieves, warns Mid-Atlantic. Police in Culpeper, Virginia are investigating a rash of thefts from automobiles in the Lakeview area. By the way, most car break-ins occur on the street, in parking lots, in driveways and in the parking lots of large apartment complexes. The antidote: Never leave valuables, such as wallets, purses, computers, cell phones or jewelry, in plain view.

Here’s the thing: the crafty thieves need less than 20 seconds to break into your vehicle and rifle through it, area law enforcement officials warn. Here’s the best tip in the whole wide world: “Thieves generally won’t waste their time breaking into autos that don’t have valuables in plain sight,” cautions the MPD.

AAA Mid-Atlantic advocates on behalf of its nearly four million members in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. It provides a wide range of personal insurance, travel, financial and automotive services through its 50-plus retail branches, regional operations centers, and the Internet. For more information, please visit our web site at www.AAA.com. ###

Tips To Avoid Becoming The Latest Victim Of A Car Break-In

The chances of your vehicle being stolen are 1 in 200. But the odds of your becoming the victim of a theft from your car are even higher. When they strike, the thieves are plundering personal items, briefcases, suitcases, purses, money, of course, cellphones, and other electronic devices, such as iPods, iPhones, laptops, and GPS units.

Depending upon the police agency, the crime is classified as “vehicle cloutings,” and “vehicle prowls,” or more simply as “vehicle burglaries” and “vehicle larcenies.” The local police say the crime is both “opportunistic and preventable.”

For your benefit, here are some other important tips from authorities with the Metropolitan Police Department and AAA Mid-Atlantic:

  • Lock your doors and trunk, roll the windows up tight, and close the sun roof.
  • Never leave ANYTHING on display when you leave your vehicle. Even loose change, cigarettes, cigarette lighters, sunglasses, CD’s, cell phones, stereos, cameras, and clothing.
  • Remember, if they can see it, they will steal it.
  • Lock your valuables in your trunk or place them into a locked glove compartment. Hiding items under seats is better than leaving them in plain view, but securing them inside the glove compartment or trunk is a far better deterrent.
  • If you must put valuables in the trunk, place them there before arriving at your parking destination.
  • Park in a well-lit area with plenty of pedestrian traffic if you expect to return to your car after dark.
  • If you have to park in a parking lot, opt for attendant lots. If you have to leave your key with the attendant, only leave the ignition and door key.
  • In high-theft areas, do not rely on just one anti-theft device.
  • If you have a garage, use it. When parked in a garage, lock the garage as well as your vehicle and close the windows.
  • If your vehicle has an alarm or other anti-theft device, use it.
  • Engrave expensive accessories and major parts with your VIN or personal identification number. This aids police in tracing stolen items.
  • Keep a record of all your credit card numbers. Write down the serial numbers, makes and models of your personal property.
  • Watch for suspicious-acting people who are loitering or lurking in the area of parked vehicles. Call 911 and describe the person’s: gender, race, height, weight, clothing and age, license number (if available) or mode of transportation, and an exact location.

The MPD also advises motorists to look for car radios or other sound systems that can operate only in the vehicle it was originally installed in. This reduces the risk of theft, police officials add. “If you can unfasten your sound system and take it with you, or lock it in your trunk, do so. And don’t forget to do the same with your CDs and tapes.”

Contact: John B. Townsend II
Phone: (202) 481-6820

Contact: Mahlon G. (Lon) Anderson/ Christopher Falkenhagen
Phone: (202) 481-6820

DC Car Break-Ins on the Rise

Car Break-Ins, Thefts In Thousands

By Metro News

(Greenbelt, MD) — A new report from auto club Triple-A Mid-Atlantic says car break-ins and thefts are on the rise in the District. The group compiled police department records, showing 7,841 vehicle larcenies in 2011 alone. In 2010, more than seven-thousand vehicle thefts were reported in DC. So far this year, thieves have broken into more than three-thousand vehicles across the city. A Triple-A news release reads, quote, "First things first: Don’t be complacent about this." Spokesman John Townsend urges drivers to lock their vehicles parked on streets or in public garages

DISB Finalizes Settlement Agreement With Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC

June 20, 2012
DISB Finalizes Settlement Agreement With Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC
Commissioner William P. White of the DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) recently signed a final Consent Order* requiring Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC (Morgan Stanley) to complete or confirm to DISB its repurchase of auction-rate securities (ARS) from District of Columbia clients to settle allegations that the firm’s securities dealers misled investors about the safety of the ARS market.

“DISB is holding Morgan Stanley accountable for engaging in unethical behavior by selling auction rate securities to District of Columbia investors without full disclosure of the risks involved,” said Commissioner White, who signed the Consent Order on June 5, 2012. “This action sends a strong message that states will not tolerate unethical and unlawful behavior in the securities markets.”

Although marketed and sold to investors as safe, liquid, and cash-like investments, ARS are actually long-term investments subject to complex auction processes that failed in early 2008, leading to illiquidity for investors.

“From the day these auctions first failed, DISB has been seeking much needed relief and liquidity for investors stuck with auction rate securities,” the Commissioner added. “I am pleased that Morgan Stanley has agreed to do what’s right by repurchasing clients’ positions, and I expect other firms that sold these securities in the District of Columbia to do the same.”

The order also requires Morgan Stanley to pay a $285,648.87 fine to the District of Columbia. The fine amount represents the District’s pro-rata share of a $35,000,000.00 settlement negotiated by a multistate task force of state regulators formed by the North American Securities Administrators Association. Early in 2008, state offices began receiving complaints regarding ARS from investors throughout the country. During the investigation, regulators discovered that Morgan Stanley’s securities dealers failed to adequately inform customers and train employees on the risks associated with buying ARS.

The Consent Order is the final step in the District’s ARS case against Morgan Stanley, which was tentatively settled October 2009. DISB has entered into settlements with 11 other Wall Street firms, which involved nationwide sales of ARS totaling $827,938,989.25. Those settlements have resulted in the payment to the District of $3,606,679.33 in fines. DISB is actively negotiating similar settlements with other firms regarding ARS sold in the District of Columbia.

Will Adrian Fenty Run for Mayor Again?

Will Adrian Fenty Run for Mayor Again?

With Vincent Gray under federal investigation, District denizens are wondering whether Fenty will take another stab at public office.
By Harry Jaffe

Published June 20, 2012, Washingtonian Magazine

More than a few residents of Washington, DC, are suffering from voter’s remorse. Those who turned out Adrian Fenty in favor of Vincent Gray want a do-over. Federal prosecutors are probing Mayor Gray’s campaign for felonious behavior. Hamstrung by the pallor of corruption, Gray seems to have slogged through his first year, compared to the frantic motion Fenty brought to the job.

Voter’s remorse is particularly evident in the upper reaches of Ward 3, where voters who went with Gray pine away for the vigor they saw in Fenty.

All of which leads to one question: Will Fenty return to politics and run again for mayor?

“I hear it all the time,” says Terry Lynch, a Fenty confidante and executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations. “Where’s Adrian? Would he consider running again?”

The short answer is no. The long answer is noooo. I cornered Fenty at a fundraiser and asked him if he was done with DC politics. He gave me that zany grin under startled eyes and said: “Done.”

Friends, allies and former staffers still in touch with Fenty say he has taken a guillotine to his decade in DC politics: from council staffer to council member to one term as mayor. He’s moved on, they say, with nary a glance back.

“He’s living the life,” Lynch says. “His wife and children are thrilled to have a real life outside the glare of the media. Who would want to give up the chance to spend time with their kids, take a vacation, compete in a triathlon without being taken to task?”

Fenty, 41, has stitched together a variety of gigs. A lawyer by training, he became special counsel last summer with the law firm Klores Perry Mitchell. Oberlin College, his alma mater, invited him to teach classes in government. He’s consulting on government contracting. He’s spending a lot of time with his twin sons and daughter, friends say.

“I don’t think Adrian would give up the money and the lifestyle,” says Tom Lindenfeld, a political adviser who helped elect Fenty in 2006. At 36, he was the youngest DC mayor. He won every precinct. “Why sacrifice the plaudits to prove that all over again?”

Lindenfeld is a fan of Fenty’s bold reforms. He took control of the public schools, oversaw the repair and rebuilding of schools and recreation centers, housed the homeless, and brought accountability throughout the DC government. Even Washingtonians who thought Fenty grew arrogant and distant as mayor want him back.

“He looks better and better in the rearview mirror,” says a political opponent who worked to elect Gray.

If Fenty wanted to stay connected to the District in a charitable rather than a political endeavor, he could take control of Forward Faster, a nonprofit that holds the $440,000 left over from his citizen services fund. By law, he could convert the funds into a charity, which he did in 2010. Washington Business Journal has reported on the fund. At last check, Fenty did not have a role in the nonprofit.

Fenty has played a bit part in national politics. When Wisconsin Republican governor Scott Walker first faced criticism because of his clash with public employee unions, Fenty went on national TV to support him and rail against collective bargaining.

“Adrian is still a very young man,” says a council member. “He could come back in 2018. It’s still possible.”

Seems highly doubtful. And he might have to run as a Republican.