Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown to pay $40,000-plus for ethics violations

FILE Photo from May 2011: City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and her campaign have been slapped with a $40,584 fine for a series of ethics violations. ( Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer )

City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and her campaign have been slapped with a $48,834 fine for a series of ethics violations.

The Ethics Board announced today that Reynolds Brown made material misstatements and omissions in her campaign finance reports, accepted excess contributions, failed to properly deposit contributions, accepted prohibited gifts and failed to disclose transactions on 2010 and 2011 financial interest statements.

The 25-page report included details of Reynolds Brown’s financial woes in which she sought assistance from mentor Congressman Chaka Fattah to prevent her house from going into foreclosure in 2010. She needed $30,000 to save her home and by November was at least $3,000 short.  Chaka “Chip” Fattah Jr. gave the Councilwoman a $3,300 loan which she did not disclose on her 2010 financial interest statement. At the time Fattah Jr. was an employee of a for-profit charter school that received millions of dollars in contracts from the School District. The FBI is currently investigating Fattah Jr.’s finances.

Reynolds Brown was not taking calls on the agreement reached with the Ethics Board, but her office released this statement:

“I have cooperated fully with the Board of Ethics in an effort to clear up any oversight and/or omissions made by the Friends of Blondell Reynolds Brown so that my campaign may begin with a clean slate effective immediately and I can continue to focus on my constituents and the important legislative business of the City of Philadelphia. 

It is clear that there were a number of errors that occurred during the last campaign. I brought information to the Board of Ethics that resulted in this settlement.

I take full responsibility for the conduct of my campaign and have taken corrective steps to ensure that future reporting is clear and accurate. The persons responsible for these errors have been removed from any responsibilities regarding the Friends of Blondell Reynolds Brown and I have implemented strict guidelines and practices to ensure these errors will not be repeated.

I also must take full responsibility for an error in judgment regarding the repayment of a loan, through campaign funds, for a personal matter. I have subsequently made the Friends of Blondell Reynolds Brown whole through reimbursing that amount with my personal funds.  I deeply regret this decision, which I voluntarily brought to the attention of the Board of Ethics. Most important: I apologize to my supporters and my colleagues, whose trust I value deeply. I will do everything in my power to make amends.”