Ron Brown's Son Guilty of Laundering Donations: Admits '94 Gifts to Edward Kennedy's Campaign

Article excerpt

Michael A. Brown, son of the late Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown, pleaded guilty yesterday to federal election law violations for illegal donations he made during the 1994 campaign.

In a deal with Justice Department prosecutors, Mr. Brown admitted to a misdemeanor count of exceeding the legal limit of $2,000 for an individual donor when he illegally routed $4,000 to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's 1994 campaign through "straw donors" as an officer of an Oklahoma utilities firm run by Democratic fund-raisers Nora and Gene Lum.

Mr. Brown, 32, told U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina that charges in the government's plea agreement were "very accurate" and admitted he broke the law by finding others to divert the cash to the campaign of the Massachusetts Democrat. Judge Urbina accepted the plea and set sentencing for Nov. 21.

Mr. Brown agreed to cooperate in the government's probe of campaign-finance abuses in exchange for no prison term. Prosecutor Raymond N. Hulser said the amount of the donations dictated that a misdemeanor charge be filed instead of a felony. The charge carries a one-year prison sentence and a $100,000 fine.

Mr. Brown, in a statement, said he took "personal responsibility for a single misdemeanor violation" of election laws and had "fully cooperated" with the court, law enforcement officials and the Justice Department. He said he hoped to "put the tragedy of the last year fully behind" him.

The Brown plea was the second for the government in its probe of campaign-finance abuses. In June, the Lums pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a scheme to pass $50,000 through others to the Kennedy campaign and that of W. Stuart Price, an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the House in Oklahoma. They also agreed to cooperate in the government's campaign-finance probe.

Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Price were not implicated in the scheme.

In the Brown case, records show he contributed $1,000 to Mr. Kennedy's re-election campaign on May 27, 1994, and made another $1,000 donation on Sept. …