By Denise Williams
The Florida/Georgia Star
Former congresswoman Corrine Brown is an icon in the Florida district she so faithfully served. She is a true pioneer who fought for federal funds to improve the lives of residents on the First Coast in Florida and Georgia. Many of her constituents are unaware of the many initiatives she implemented over her 30 plus years and that her heart felt political career has had a lasting impact on their lives. Her first election to Congress was representing the second district in the mid-1980’s. Her predecessor was Charles Edward Bennett who was the longest-serving member of either house of Congress in Florida’s history. Representative Brown’s win over him was nothing short of historic. She served the people in the second district from 1984-1992, the third district from 1993-2013 and the fifth district from 2013-2017. South Georgia residents admire her so very much and feel much of their progress came through her.
Representative Brown has always been a protagonist, consistently fighting to improve the lives of the elderly, veterans and children within her jurisdiction, including scholarships, computers, and a trip to China. She has rallied for federal funds to improve the highways and streets of the First Coast in addition to wholeheartedly supporting the federal courthouse construction in downtown Jacksonville. Over the decades Representative Brown has shown her love for her district in every piece of legislation she worked tirelessly to get passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate and eventually signed into law by the sitting President. She worked with both republican and democratic administrations and has the respect of her peers on Capitol Hill.
Representative Brown sponsored or co-sponsored 4, 860 pieces of legislation that she introduced to Capitol Hill. She introduced legislation to address the growing problem of human trafficking in Florida through the “Commission on the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Act H.R. 3432” which was signed into law. She presented the “Homes for Heroes Act of 2008 H.R. 3329” to secure housing for veterans. It passed in the House of Representatives. Her railroad safety initiative offered an additional layer of protection to travelers and workers on the railroad (Railroad Safety Enhancement Act of 2008 H.R. 2095) which became law. The Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act offered equal pay to minorities and women. It passed in the House (Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 H.R. 2831). For seniors, the former congresswoman launched the “Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program Reauthorization Act of 2012 H.R. 2800 which passed the House. Her Americans with Disabilities legislation passed the House (ADA Amendments Act of 2008 H.R. 3195) as well as the Traumatic Brain Injury & Long Term care (Traumatic Brain Injury Health Enhancement and Long-Term Support Act of 2007 H.R. 2199). Her medicare offering “Medicare IVIG Access and Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act of 2012 H.R. 1845” was signed into law.
In the late 1990’s the former congresswoman was questioned by the house Ethics Committee about a check in the amount of $10,000.00 from Rev. Henry Lyons. It was suggested that she misappropriated the funds from Rev. Lyons who was the leader of the National Baptist Convention at the time. The money was redirected to Pameron Bus Tours and was utilized for transportation to a rally she organized in Tallahassee, Florida. She was cleared of any wrongdoing as the monies were not used for personal gain. Representative Brown has recently been in the media as she is again being accused of mismanaging funds. Accusations are again brought against her in regard to funds from a non-profit charity in Virginia has arisen. This indictment includes charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, concealing material facts on required financial disclosure forms, theft of government property, and filing false tax returns.
Representative Brown has received public support from clergy, politicians, veterans, and women’s groups. In early February 2017, the Potter’s House Soul Food Bistro hosted an appreciation fundraiser in her honor. The keynote speaker was Martin Luther King III who spoke of his work with Representative Brown over the last 25 years. Bishop Rudolph McKissick, Sr, former Jacksonville, Florida Mayor Alvin Brown, State Representative Kimberly Daniels and Senator Audrey Gibson have shown their support towards the former congresswoman, as they all agree as her constituents, that “Corrine Delivers.”
On April 5, 2017, Ms. Brown will have the opportunity to respond to the charges against her, which she repeatedly stated are false. In addition to all of the charges getting dropped, she has no plans to accept a plea deal. Her attorney stated the case against her is circumstantial and there is no clear evidence that she had knowledge of any fraudulent activity. Her former chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons and his ex-lover Carla Wiley have both accepted plea deals. They both agreed to testify against her. Ms. Brown’s attorney was reported as saying the case against her is circumstantial and there’s no evidence to prove she had direct knowledge of any fraud. Representative Brown’s attorney believes Simmons and Wiley are testifying against her to save themselves. Many of the former congress woman’s supporters believe the charges are bogus and many of her former constituents continue to believe in her innocence.