Kwame Brown: The Aftermath
Barrington M. Salmon | , WI Staff Writer | 6/15/2012, 11:09 a.m.
"The feds have peeled back the lid on a can of worms and it's a deep can. I see no end to this."
Thies likened the situation facing the city's elected officials with someone who bought a computer 10 years ago and hasn't updated it.
"Older political players' view of politics and contracting was shaped in the '80s and '90s," he said. "Twelve years into the new century, what may not have been illegal then, may be now and people care about these issues."
"The city has changed a lot but people's view and MOs don't. They need to update or they'll run into problems. You have to update your game."
Former City Administrator Michael Rogers said the ethical and other problems that have enmeshed some public officials belies the honesty and hard work of most government employees.
"It's very unfortunate for Brown and his family, but especially for the District of Columbia, which once again is cast in a bad light because of the personal indiscretions of leaders in prominent positions," said Rogers. "You should not say that the whole council is corrupt. When you look at the number of men and women who have served - in the hundreds - you only have two."
Brown, 41, resigned on June 8, after signing a plea agreement where he admitted submitting false information to secure a $166,000 home equity loan, as well as a $55,000 loan he used to buy a powerboat. Brown, also pleaded guilty to violating a District campaign law that bars candidates from paying campaign employees more than $50. Brown - who acknowledged aiding and abetting a relative to pay $1,500 to a campaign worker during the 2008 campaign - faces up to six months in jail.
In addition to Brown, former Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas, Jr., faces prison time for stealing $353,500 and filing false tax returns. A federal judge sentenced the 51-year-old to 38 months in prison.
And in recent weeks, two campaign aides of Mayor Vincent C. Gray pled guilty to campaign violations during the 2010 election cycle.
A source who moves in D.C. political circles said there needs to be mechanisms in place for attracting men and women who care about the city, who are knowledgeable about public policy, politics, and government, and who are of unquestioned integrity.
"These politicians had demonstrated potential, But for bad judgment on both their parts, they could have continued to rise in D.C. politics," he said. "People elected [them] to serve, not to demonstrate bad judgment. If you're just about yourself, seeking to improve yourself and your lifestyle with the people's money, you should not be there. People don't forget that."
But Ward 8 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Dionne Y. Brown said the type of people with unimpeachable integrity and who aren't interested in enriching themselves from the public coffers generally will never get to the point of running for public office because of an outdated and essentially ineffective political machine.
She said prospective candidates are groomed - taught how to play the game the way it has always been played - how to win and how to raise, hide and launder money but not how to conduct themselves properly.