After Kwame Brown, D.C. is Fed Up With Corrupt Politicians

New site tracks government wrongdoing with D.C. politicians.

By + More
Washington D.C. City Council Chairman Kwame Brown
Washington D.C. City Council Chairman Kwame Brown in Washington, D.C.

The crisis of corruption in Washington's local politics reached a peak Wednesday night, with the resignation of D.C. City Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown hours after being charged with bank fraud.

Thursday, prosecutors in D.C. superior court filed a second charge against Brown for unlawful cash campaign expenditure, according to NBC Washington.

[See: Latest political cartoons]

Brown's resignation came on the heels of others.

Last month, D.C. councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. resigned after being charged with stealing $350,000 in city funds. Also in May, two former aides to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray pleaded guilty in a probe of the mayor's 2010 campaign.

Washington has had enough of the alleged wrongdoers.

A new site, D.C.Without Indictment, tracks how many days have gone by without a high-profile local politician or official being charged with crimes of corruption, fraud, or public integrity.

At present, the count is zero.

"We have a serious culture of corruption in the city, leaving the nation's capital in a crisis of competency," Matt Ashburn, a senior consultant in information security and former DOJ intelligence analyst, who launched the site, tells Whispers. "The counter website is a tool to help raise awareness of this chilling problem."

Mayor Gray said in a statement that he was "shocked" by the charges against Brown.

"I am disappointed and saddened," Gray said. "Never would I have imagined something like this would occur."

DC Public Trust, a group of local citizens who've also had enough of the alleged corruption, plan to do something about it.

They're working to get an initiative on the ballot in November that would get corporate money out of the local campaigns.

If successful, "bundling"—a common practice in D.C. in which related companies make multiple campaign donations, skirting contribution limits—would have to stop. Washington council members, many of which rely on corporations for contributions, aren't likely to be pleased.

In a report on Kwame Brown's resignation today, the Washington Post reports the council chairman kept a copy of a book called "Mr. Untouchable" on his boat "Bulletproof". It's a book title some would say aptly describes the culture of the city's local politicians.

But if some D.C. residents have their way, "untouchable" won't last long.

  • Ex-campaign Aide To D.C. Mayor Pleads Guilty
  • Journal, Post Reporters, Skewer D.C. Mayor
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.
  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.