Corruption and a lack of ethics certainly seem more prevalent among Democrat officials considering the frequency of which they are accused and convicted of wrongdoing. Another Democrat in Florida is evidence of this.
Former Representative Corrine Brown (D-FL), 71, who served in the House from 1993 to 2017, was charged and convicted on numerous felony fraud and corruption charges, including filing false tax returns and mail and wire fraud. She faces between five and nine years in prison for her crimes, as First Coast News reported.
In May, Brown was convicted of 18 counts of 22 charges. In addition to filing fraudulent tax returns, she was involved with a fake charity, “One Door for Education,” who never filed for 501(c)(3) status, although it claimed to provide scholarships to “poor and underprivileged children seeking to become teachers.” Despite this, the charity collected over $800,000 in just four years, donating only $1,200 to scholarships. Much of the money came from Brown’s own supporters.
Brown and her co-conspirators, Carla Wiley and Ronnie Simmons, were involved in the illegal actions of the “charity.” Simmons reportedly removed $800 daily from the charity bank account, then deposited the funds into Brown’s personal accounts. Brown used the money for vacations, shopping, and other expenses. Prosecutors concluded that $330,000 in donations were used for lavish events in Brown’s honor, while $70,000 went straight in her own pocket. Wiley personally collected more than $100,000, and Simmons collected thousands more.
US District Judge, Timothy Corrigan, will not announce Brown’s sentence for the 18 convictions until December 4th. During the hearing held on Thursday, Brown and her legal team pleaded for a lenient sentence.
In a statement made before the court, Brown apologized and pleaded for “mercy and compassion.” She said, “I am 71 years old. I just had a birthday.”
However, her following words seem to indicate that she still denies the charges. “In hindsight, I wished I had been more diligent in overseeing my personal and professional life. The idea that some people could believe these charges hurt me because it runs contrary to everything I’ve ever believed and done in my life. I hope and pray these proceedings to don’t make them [ordinary people] lose faith in the system. I humbly ask for mercy and compassion.”
Assistant US Attorney, A. Tysen Duva, stated, “She ran for office to be a leader of American democracy while she stole money in a multitude of ways. She was a historic figure. She was a trailblazer. She has positive things to point to, but what it can’t do is overshadow the offense.”
These “positive things” have been a pillar of Brown’s defense. Earlier in the trial, numerous character witnesses spoke on her behalf, including personal friends of Brown’s. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) also testified, calling Brown a “loving person,” citing work such as assistance for veterans with PTSD, and Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as evidence of Brown’s “character of giving to others unselfishly.”
The characterization goes against the evidence, however. Brown intentionally lied about the money she personally donated to organizations, which was disproved by the records of the very charities she contributed to. She minimalized the amounts she collected, and embellished spending and donation amounts.
She also lied to her friends, such as former CEO of CSX, Mike Ward, who contributed $35,000 to One Door for Education under the presumption that the organization would provide iPads to improve underprivileged students’ learning.
It matters little what sort of allegedly life-changing or positive measures taken by Brown. Her criminal actions under the guise of a charity are serious crimes indicating poor choices and poor character. Whatever legacy she had as an individual and a Congresswoman are justifiably overtaken by felonious acts for which she should be held accountable for, regardless of her age. Hopefully her sentence will include prison time appropriate for her misdeeds.