Disclosure Requirements Weak For D.C. Officials Involved With Nonprofits | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Disclosure Requirements Weak For D.C. Officials Involved With Nonprofits

Play associated audio
D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown is under fire for not disclosing potential conflicts of interest stemming from his wife's city-funded non-profit work.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bootbearwdc/5164978183/
D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown is under fire for not disclosing potential conflicts of interest stemming from his wife's city-funded non-profit work.

The D.C. Council is promising to tackle ethics reform when it returns from recess next month. Among the changes are likely to be stricter reporting requirements for potential conflicts of interest.

In May of 2010, the wife of Council Chairman Kwame Brown was hired by the H Street Community Development Corporation.

Four months later, that nonprofit group -- which had not received any city funds in years -- won a $138,000 grant from the District government.

The agency that awarded the grant, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, is one of Brown's oversight responsibilities.

H Street CDC says there's no connection with council chair

H Street CDC's Executive Director Kenneth Brewer denies any connection between Marcia Brown's hiring and the grant.

"There has been no influence peddling to get a grant of $138,000," says Brewer. "There have been opportunities with the government that we decided not to bid on for that very reason because people's imagination conjures up some relationship between the chairman of the council and the H Street Community Development Corporation."

Brewer says Mr. Brown's name was not on grant application and adds the amount is small and doesn't cover anyone's salary.

Finally, he says Mrs. Brown, a former teacher, works on projects such as a student trip to China.

"Mrs. Brown does not work on anything related to government," says Brewer.

WAMU also found that Mrs. Brown was listed as a representative of H Street CDC at this year's International Council of Shopping Centers in Las Vegas [PDF], a major conference for developers and city officials.

The meeting was a major draw for city officials and business leaders; Mayor Vincent Gray attended the conference and held meetings with high-profile retail outlets such as Wegman's and Wal-Mart.

Brewer says Mrs. Brown did not attend the May meeting because of a scheduling conflict.

Disclosure of conflicts of Interest

By law, officials in D.C. have to file a yearly financial disclosure form. They're specifically asked if their spouses work for any "businesses entities" that do work for the city government.

Asked why he didn't disclose his wife's employment, Chairman Brown said he didn't have to because H Street CDC is a nonprofit. The Office of Campaign Finance doesn't consider nonprofits to be business entities.

Brown isn't alone. The wife of council member Harry Thomas works for the Greater Washington Sports Alliance, a group that has received more than $1 million in grants and write-offs from the city over the past few years. Thomas does not list her employment on disclosure forms.

Chairman Brown says in the future, disclosure requirements will include nonprofit organizations.

NPR

Maggie Gyllenhaal Is 'The Honorable Woman': A Series Both Ruthless And Rewarding

The eight-part drama that begins Thursday stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as a British baroness with an Israeli passport. She's a fearless actor in a show full of kidnappings, seductions and betrayals.
NPR

When China Spurns GMO Corn Imports, American Farmers Lose Billions

China has been a big and growing market for U.S. corn. But then farmers started planting a kind of genetically engineered corn that's not yet approved in China, and the Chinese government struck back.
NPR

Congress Approves $16.3 Billion VA Health Care Bill

A 91-3 vote in the Senate will send the landmark VA legislation, meant to address widespread problems in the VA health care system, to President Obama for his signature.
NPR

Can Pinterest Compete With Google's Search?

Pinterest has created a database of things that matter to humans. And with a programming team that's largely been hired away from Google, the company has begun offering what it calls "guided search."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.