Former D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown said his campaign is gaining momentum for next month's special election as he knocks on doors, visits churches and plans to attend a series of fundraisers scheduled before the March 10 finance reporting deadline.
"Now that I'm cleared, people are focusing on my campaign," Brown said in an interview with The Afro. "They are excited that this ethical cloud is now behind me. I knew it should have never been there anyway."
This week, Brown said there are a series of planned fundraisers, including one on Capitol Hill and another one on March 7 at the home of prominent lobbyist David Wilmot in Northwest Washington.
While Brown said he's never had any problem raising money, the lingering investigation into the missing funds of his 2012 campaign hasn't helped. In January, Brown's campaign reported raising $9,500 and spending all but $1,075, according to the campaign finance office.
Last year, Brown said he raised $250,000 for his unsuccessful council bid. He called for an investigation during the campaign after he found that $114,000 was not in his bank account.
Wesley W. Williams, a spokesman for the campaign finance office, confirmed there was never any evidence that suggested Brown was involved in any impropriety.
"The evidence that was presented during the course of the audit did not implicate Mr. Brown," Williams said.
Brown is one of seven candidates vying for the at-large seat that was held by now D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D).
The other candidates in the special April 23 election are: Democrats Anita Bonds, chairwoman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee; Matthew Frumin, an attorney and Ward 3 advisory neighborhood commissioner; Elissa Silverman, a former reporter who now works with the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute; and Paul Zukerberg, an attorney. Rounding out the list are Patrick Mara, a Republican who is a member of the school board, and Perry Redd of the Statehood Green Party.
Frumin has raised the most money with $82,000, including $10,000 out of his own pocket.
To avoid the problems with his campaign finances that he faced during the
November election, Brown is serving as his own treasurer.
"I'm not playing around," Brown said. "For a special election with a quick turnaround time, I thought I'd be treasurer of my own campaign. It's the responsible thing to do."
Last summer, Brown, then vice chairman of the D.C. Council and a candidate for reelection to his citywide seat, called for an investigation into the actions of his campaign treasurer. The investigation focused on Hakim J. Sutton, according to a complaint filed by the campaign finance office to the D.C. Board of Elections on January 14. Sutton's lawyer, J. Wyndal Gordon, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing by his client. Sutton worked on Brown's campaigns for seven years.
Brown said he has not spoken to Sutton since alleging the theft. Brown said the police and the U.S. Attorney's office told him privately in September or October that he was not under investigation. But it was not publicly reported and Brown said he thinks that why he was defeated in November's election by David Grosso (I-At Large).
The campaign is back on track, Brown said. He is campaigning the traditional way—canvassing neighborhoods, dropping into churches every Sunday and targeting his base of support. He wants to continue to work on affordable housing, homelessness and making the District a family- and business-friendly city, he said.
"I have unfinished business," Brown said. "We never should have lost in the first place."