The House Ethics Committee today said it has opened an investigation into Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville.
A letter released Wednesday states that the investigation includes “allegations that she engaged in improper conduct relating to certain outside organizations, including allegations that she may have conspired with other persons in connection with fraudulent activity, improperly solicited charitable donations, used campaign funds for personal purposes, used official resources for impermissible non-official purposes, failed to comply with tax laws and made false statements, and/or failed to make required disclosures, to the House of Representatives and Federal Election Commission.” Read the notice here.
“When the Department of Justice steps in, prison time is possible,” said Craig Holman of Public Citizen, a group that pushes for stronger public control over Congress. The committee can reprimand a House member or recommend expulsion, but can’t come close to the punishments Justice can impose, he said by email.
It’s the latest shoe to drop for Brown, who received a federal subpoena for records in January and is connected to a federal investigation of an obscure Virginia organization the government says bilked donors out of about $800,000 by posing as a charity.
The president of that organization, One Door for Education, pleaded guilty earlier this month to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The plea agreement mentioned two co-conspirators, among them an unnamed public official, who allegedly defrauded donors by using the power and credibility of an elected office.
The facts outlined in the agreement point to Brown as that public official.
As she has before, Brown stayed quiet Wednesday, saying through a spokesman “I have no comment.”
Federal authorities won’t say why Brown was served a subpoena or if the One Door investigation is related.