A financial fraud case from May saw a top Democrat using a charitable foundation to pad her own pockets and those of her staff.
Investigators discovered hundreds of thousand of dollars were withheld from needy children and used on personal expenses in this scandal, which was kept quiet by the media. Former Democratic Representative Corrine Brown (D-FL) was indicted on 24 counts of fraud via her charitable foundation, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
This Clintonesque fraud exploited the money donated to the One Door for Education fund for the personal expenses of Brown and her staff. The One Door for Education was founded by Brown in order to (supposedly) provide scholarship money for poor students who would otherwise be unable to receive an education.
Eric G. Olshan, one of the prosecutors in the case against Brown, said in his closing argument that these children were the victims of Brown’s greed. “The real victims are all of those worthy kids who could have gotten scholarships, who needed a leg up. That’s who she robbed from, those kids.”
Financial records show that the charity received at least $800,000, but only used $1,200 on the children. Federal authorities have traced at least $200,000 of the money, and have found that it was used on frivolous expenses like NFL tickets, luxury vacations, automotive repairs, and other similarly non-related expenses. The rest of the money was supposedly wired to Brown’s personal bank account.
Despite the later verdict, which rendered Brown guilty of at least 18 indictments, it seems Brown and her supporters have failed to learn their lesson, according to First Coast News. According to the Florida-based news station, Brown hosted a benefit concert at a church to pay for her legal expenses, instead of using her own funds.
The expenses from the lengthy trial (and conviction on 18 counts of fraud) were likely substantial, and Brown used a famous gospel singer to raise the money to pay for it. The concert “Praise with a Purpose,” featuring Shirley Caesar at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, sold tickets ranging from $25 to $40 to raise the money needed to pay Brown’s legal fees. Hundreds of people attended the concert.
According to Brown, the concert goers were a welcome sight. “The people who are coming here are coming because they trust me, they are praying for me. I’m glad they know it and I need help when you are going up against the criminal justice system it is very expensive,” she stated.
According to Corrine Brown Legal Trust, the former Democrat representative needs at least $1 million to pay for all associated fees related to her conviction, though they have no estimates as to how much money the concerts and events are raising.
Another politician has been indicted for defrauding a charity. Should there be enhanced penalties for these people?
Brown assures everyone that the concert wasn’t solely about the legal fees. “It’s more than that. People everywhere I go say they are praying for me, but I say I want you to come and pray with me,” she said.
Her lawyer, James Smith, similarly argued that the concert wasn’t about the money. “It’s really not just about her legal case per se, it’s about giving her supporters an opportunity to come and interact with one of the most famous gospel singers.”
Though throwing a benefit concert to pay for her legal fees is in and of itself legal, the fact that voters (and her supporters) were willing to provide financial relief following undeniable evidence of massive charity fraud is stunning.