Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brown Aide Didn't Report $9,800 Fees

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brown Aide Didn't Report $9,800 Fees

Article excerpt

A financial disclosure form filed by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown's

chief of staff did not report $9,800 in fees he received for

work on her 1996 campaign.

House rules require public disclosure of any outside income in

excess of $200 for representatives and their top staff members.

Contacted about the report Thursday, chief of staff Ronnie

Simmons said it raised a "valid question." He responded by

writing a letter to the House ethics committee, seeking an

opinion on whether he must report the political consulting fees.

In the letter, Simmons said he will change the report if he

made an error.

Simmons was a key player in Brown's 1996 re-election effort,

according to reports her campaign organization filed with the

Federal Election Commission. Those documents show Simmons was

paid $9,800 for his work as a consultant, plus $6,725 for

related expenses.

But when Simmons filed a financial disclosure report in May

1997, he did not report those fees. Instead, he answered "no" to

the question of whether he had received more than $200 in

outside salaries or fees in 1996 from "any source."

If someone "knowingly and willfully" fails to report any

information required in the statement, the U.S. attorney general

can bring a civil action and seek a penalty of up to $10,000.

Simmons said that because Brown's campaign committee had

already publicly reported all its payments to him in reports

filed with the FEC, he did not think he needed to report that on

his financial disclosure statements.

He said it also is unclear to him whether payments for

political consulting fall into the category of income that must

be disclosed, because some other campaign-related payments, like

travel expenses, are not part of a financial disclosure

statement.

"Obviously, since this is already a matter of public record, I

have no concerns about reporting the payment on my financial

disclosure statement, if the law so requires," Simmons wrote.

Brown, a Jacksonville Democrat, was not available for an

interview Thursday.

In the wake of her 1992 campaign, which the election commission

has admonished for several election law violations, Brown vowed

to keep her congressional office and her campaign team separate.

She made that announcement after her campaign treasurer,

Kenneth Jones, abruptly resigned in protest in 1993 because

Simmons signed Jones' name to a campaign report and sent it to

the election commission without Jones' knowledge or consent.

Jones wanted Brown to dismiss Simmons. Instead, Brown kept

Simmons as her chief of staff. …

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