Corrine Brown

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Corrine Brown
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2017
Preceded by Charles E. Bennett
Succeeded by Al Lawson
Constituency 3rd district (1993–2013)
5th district (2013–2017)
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 17th district
In office
November 8, 1982 – November 3, 1992
Preceded by Redistricted
Succeeded by Redistricted
Personal details
Born (1946-11-11) November 11, 1946 (age 72)
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Children 1 daughter; Shantrel Brown[1]
Education Florida A&M University (BS, MA)
University of Florida (EdS)

Corrine Brown (born November 11, 1946) is a former American politician and convicted felon who served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida from 1993 to 2017. She is a member of the Democratic Party. After being indicted on federal corruption charges and after a court-ordered redistricting significantly changed her district, Brown was defeated in the 2016 Democratic primary by Al Lawson, who went on to win Brown's former seat.[2][3]

On May 11, 2017, Brown was convicted of 18 of her 22 felony criminal charges,[4] including filing false tax returns and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, in relation to the non-profit charity, "One Door for Education Foundation".[5] She was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay restitution on December 4, 2017.[6][7]Although Corinne Brown is expected to appeal her conviction, the trial judge has ordered her to begin her prison term while any appeals go forward. He has ordered her to report to prison on or before January 29, 2018.[8] On December 29, 2017, Brown appealed the judge's ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, once again requesting to remain free while her appeals go forward. Her request for bond was denied and she reported to prison on January 29, 2018.[9] The Federal Bureau of Prisons issued Corinne Brown federal inmate number 67315-018.[10]

Early life, education, and academic career

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Brown earned a bachelor of science degree from Florida A&M University in 1969[11][12] In college she became a member of the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, one of four historically-recognized African-American Greek letter sororities in the United States. She earned a master's degree in 1971 from Florida A&M University, and in 1974 received an educational specialist degree from the University of Florida. She received an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, and has been on the faculty at the latter two schools and at Florida State College at Jacksonville.[13]

Florida Legislature

After an unsuccessful bid for the Florida House of Representatives in 1980, Brown was elected two years later from a newly drawn House district that encompassed predominantly African-American neighborhoods around downtown Jacksonville.[14][15] She served in the House for ten years.

U.S. House of Representatives



After the 1990 census, the Florida legislature carved out a new 3rd congressional district in the northern part of the state. This district was designed to enclose an African-American majority within its boundaries. A horseshoe-shaped district encompassing largely African-American neighborhoods in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Orlando, Ocala, and Lake City,[16] the 3rd district seemed likely to send Florida's first African-American to Congress since Reconstruction, and Brown decided to run.[17]

Brown faced several candidates in the 1992 Democratic primary, but the strongest opponent to emerge was Andy Johnson, a white talk radio host from Jacksonville. Brown defeated Johnson in the primary and in a two-candidate runoff, and went on to win the general election in November 1992.[18]

In 1995, the 3rd district was struck down by the United States Supreme Court as an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.[19] One of the main instigators of the lawsuit that led to the redistricting was Brown's 1992 opponent, Andy Johnson. Brown railed against the change, complaining that "[t]he Bubba I beat couldn't win at the ballot box [so] he took it to court," in an interview with New Republic. Although the district was redrawn to be more compact and its black population decreased, Brown won reelection in 1996.[20]


On June 1, 2009, Brown announced she would form an exploratory committee for a possible run for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Mel Martinez saying, "These are challenging times for Florida. Our economy is in a shambles and our families are hurting. Charlie Crist may be good at taking pictures and making promises, but what has he actually accomplished?"[21][22] In October 2009, it was announced that Brown would not run for Senate, and would seek reelection in the House of Representatives.[23]


After decennial redistricting in 2012, Brown's district was renumbered as the 5th district, but its basic shape remained the same, stretching from Jacksonville to Orlando. It was identified as one of the most gerrymandered districts in the country.[24] The League of Women Voters of Florida and the Florida Democratic Party challenged the new redistricting plan in court, claiming that the new 5th district was drawn to favor its incumbent and the Republican Party by packing Democratic voters, in violation of the newly adopted Fair Districts Amendment.[25]

In 2015, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the congressional redistricting plan was a partisan gerrymander in violation of the Fair Districts Amendment, and ordered the 5th district to be substantially redrawn. Brown challenged the new court-ordered map in federal court, arguing that the new plan violated the federal Voting Rights Act. In April 2016, the court ruled against Brown.[26][27] The configuration approved by the Supreme Court made the new 5th district significantly more compact than its predecessor; it runs in an east-west orientation along the Georgia border from downtown Jacksonville to Tallahassee.[28][29]

Brown ran for reelection, even though she now found herself in a district that was over 62 percent new to her.[30] In the August 30, 2016 Democratic primary, Brown was defeated by former state senator Al Lawson.[31]


Brown was one of the 31 representatives who voted against counting the electoral votes from Ohio in the United States presidential election, 2004.[32] In 2006, she voted "no" on the Child Custody Protection Act, Public Expression of Religion Act, Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act, Military Commissions Act, and Private Property Rights Implementation Act of 2006. She voted "yes" on the SAFE Port Act.[12] On September 29, 2008, Brown voted for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.[33][34]

On her 2004 political courage test at, Brown stated that she supports decriminalization of marijuana (moving from schedule I to presumably a lower schedule). This means if someone is caught with small personal amounts it would presumably be a fine instead of an arrest. She supports increasing funding for drug treatment programs rather than building more prisons. If a doctor says that a patient can benefit from marijuana, she supports listening to the doctor rather than to the police.[35]

Brown has received some of her strongest support from religious leaders, organized labor, and the sugar industry.[16][36][37]

Key votes that Brown has made recently include HR 822, the National Right To Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 on November 16, 2011, which she voted against,[38] HR 358, the Prohibiting Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which she voted against, and HJ Res 68, Authorizing Limited Use of U.S. Armed Forces in Libya, which she was in favor.

In 2003–2005, Brown co-sponsored legislation regarding civil rights and foreign relations. She also participated in Michael Moore's "Slacker" college voter drive tour.

Interest group ratings

In terms of interest group ratings, Brown held high percentages in pro-choice groups such as the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates – Positions on Reproductive Rights (for which she has a 100% rating), NARAL Pro-Choice America – Positions (100%), National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association – House of Representatives Score (100%). Brown overall held high percentage rates from other issue groups involving animal and wildlife issues, senior and security issues, labor, education, and welfare and poverty. Meanwhile, Brown's ratings were lower in issues that deal with agriculture and economics such as National Taxpayers Union – Positions on Tax and Spending (5%), American Farm Bureau Federation – Positions (33%), and United States Chamber of Commerce – Positions (13%). Other relatively low rates for Brown from interest groups include trade, conservative issues, national security, indigenous peoples issues, gun issues, immigration, and foreign aid and policy issues. The ratings do not necessarily correlate with Brown's positions or votes on certain issues during her time as a representative in the House.[39]

Political controversies

National Baptist Convention check
In 1998, Brown was questioned by the House Ethics Committee about receiving a $10,000 check from National Baptist Convention leader and long-time associate, Henry Lyons.[16] Brown confirmed receiving the check and denied she had used the money improperly.[16] Brown said that she had taken the check and converted it into another check made out to Pameron Bus Tours to pay for transportation to a rally she organized in Tallahassee. She said that she didn't have to report the money, and that she had been cleared, explaining the rally was to protest the reorganization of her district lines, and she did not use it for herself.[16]

The Federal Election Commission admonished Brown and Brown's former campaign treasurer quit after he discovered that his name had been forged on her campaign reports. The staffer alleged to have forged the treasurer's signature stayed with Brown and as of 1998 was her chief of staff.[36]

Congressional Accountability Project
On June 9, 1998, the Congressional Accountability Project voted to conduct a formal inquiry regarding Brown. The Project called for the U.S. House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to determine whether Brown had violated House ethics rules.[40] One of the complaints was that Brown's adult daughter, Shantrel Brown, had received a luxury automobile as a gift from an agent of a Gambian millionaire named Foutanga Sissoko. Sissoko, a friend of Congresswoman Brown, had been imprisoned in Miami after pleading guilty to charges of bribing a customs officer. Brown had worked to secure his release, pressuring U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno to deport Sissoko back to his homeland as an alternative to continued incarceration. The Project held this violated the House gift rule, but Brown denied she had acted improperly. The congressional subcommittee investigating Brown found insufficient evidence to issue a Statement of Alleged Violation, but said she had acted with poor judgment in connection with Sissoko.[16][41][42]

Racist accusations

On February 25, 2004 Brown referred to the Bush administration policies on Haiti as "racist", and called his representatives as a "bunch of white men" during a briefing on the Haiti crisis with senior State Department officials and several members of Congress.[43] Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega, said that, as a Mexican American, he deeply resented "being called a racist and branded a white man," to which Brown replied, "you all look alike to me." Brown initially refused to consider apologizing, but later issued a statement saying, "I sincerely did not mean to offend Secretary Noriega or anyone in the room. Rather, my comments, as they relate to 'white men,' were aimed at the policies of the Bush administration as they pertain to Haiti, which I do consider to be racist," she said. "However people read it, it wasn't meant that way," she said, noting that she was personally insulted by the "anti-Haiti sentiment brought to the table" by the officials in attendance. Hispanic representatives in Florida were more ambivalent than scornful, with Mike Cordero of the Hispanic Organization of North Florida saying, "We're not taking this as Mrs. Brown is necessarily against us. She just took a poetic license. To us, it doesn't hold any charge. It's kind of funny."[44][45]

2000 election
In July 2004 Brown was rebuked by the House of Representatives after she referred to the disputed 2000 presidential election in Florida as a "coup d'état". This comment came during floor debate over HR 4818, which would have provided for international monitoring of the 2004 U.S. presidential election.[46]

Felony fraud conviction

In July 2016, Brown and her chief of staff, Elias "Ronnie" Simmons, pleaded not guilty to a 22 count federal indictment in relation to a non-profit charity, One Door for Education Foundation. The indictment included charges of participating in a 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, obstruction of the Internal Revenue Service laws, and filing false tax returns.[47] Federal prosecutors allege the charity was to give scholarships to underprivileged students, but instead acted as the personal slush fund for Brown and her associates. The indictment said that Brown and Simmons "filled the coffers of Brown and her associates" with One Door donations for their personal and professional benefit, totaling $800,000, much of which was deposited in cash to Brown's personal bank accounts.[48][49] On May 11, 2017, former congresswoman Brown was convicted on 18 of 22 corruption charges ranging from mail fraud to filing a false federal tax return.[50] On December 4, 2017, she was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay restitution.[51]

Campaign finances

During her 2009–2010 campaign, Brown raised up to $966,669 from fundraising. Brown’s top contributors included CSX Corporation, a railroad-based freight transportation company with its headquarters in Jacksonville; Carnival Corporation, cruise line operator; Picerne Real Estate Group; Union Pacific Corp and Berkshire Hathaway, which owns BNSF Railway. Brown's top industry contributors included those railroads, lawyers/farm firms, real estate, transportation unions, and sea transportation.[52] Top sectors in Brown's 2009–2010 campaign included transportation, lawyers and lobbyists, labor, construction, and finance/insurance/real estate. During her campaign, the largest source of funds was given by large individual companies, which accounted for 54% of the contributions, and PAC contributions, which accounted for 36%. Sources of funds also included small individual contributions, self-financing on Brown's part and other sources.

Electoral history

Florida House of Representatives (1980–1988)

Florida House of Representatives, District 20, 1980 primary:[14]
  • Carl Ogden (D) – 17,437 (57.7%)
  • Corrine Brown (D) – 12,773 (42.3%)

Florida House of Representatives, District 17, 1982 primary:[15]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 4,053 (37.5%)
  • Eric O. Simpson (D) – 3,133 (29.0%)
  • Jim Glenwright (D) – 1,994 (18.5%)
  • Ervin L. Norman (D) – 1,627 (15.1%)

Florida House of Representatives, District 17, 1982 primary runoff:[15]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 5,433 (59.9%)
  • Eric O. Simpson (D) – 3,632 (40.1%)

Florida House of Representatives, District 17, 1984 primary:[53]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 5,344 (80.6%)
  • Anthony Gomes (D) – 1,287 (19.4%)

Florida House of Representatives, District 17, 1986 primary:[54]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 7,053 (79.4%)
  • Anthony Gomes (D) – 1,827 (20.6%)

Florida House of Representatives, District 17, 1988 primary:[55]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 4,221 (73.2%)
  • Denise Diamond Parsons (D) – 1,544 (26.8%)

U.S. Congress (1992–2016)

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 1992:[56]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 91,918 (59.3%)
  • Don Weidner (R) – 63,115 (40.7%)

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 1994:[57]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 63,855 (57.7%)
  • Marc Little (R) – 46,907 (42.3%)

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 1996:[58]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 98,051 (61.2%)
  • Preston James Fields (R) – 62,173 (38.3%)

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 1998:[59]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 66,621 (55.4%)
  • Bill Randall (R) – 53,530 (44.6%)

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 2000:[60]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 102,143 (57.6%)
  • Jennifer Carroll (R) – 75,228 (42.4%)
  • Carl Sumner (WRI) – 1 (0.0%)

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 2002:[61]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 88,462 (59.3%)
  • Jennifer Carroll (R) – 60,747 (40.7%)
  • Jon Arnett (WRI) – 4 (0.0%)

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 2004:[62]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 172,833 (99.2%)
  • Johnny M. Brown (WRI) – 1,323 (0.8%)

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 2006:[63]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – Unopposed (100%)

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 2008:[63]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – Unopposed (100%)

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 2010:[64]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 94,744 (63.0%)
  • Mike Yost (R) – 50,932 (33.9%)
  • Terry Martin-Back (NPA) – 4,625 (3.1%)

Florida's 5th congressional district, 2012:[65]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 190,472 (70.8%)
  • LeAnne Kolb (R) – 70,700 (26.3%)
  • Eileen Fleming (NPA) – 7,978 (3.0%)
  • Bruce Ray Riggs (WRI) – 3 (0.0%)

Florida's 5th congressional district, 2014:[66]

  • Corrine Brown (D) – 112,340 (65.5%)
  • Glo Smith (R) – 59,237 (34.5%)

Florida's 5th congressional district, 2016 primary:[67]

  • Al Lawson (D) - 39,261 (48%)
  • Corrine Brown (D) - 32,157 (39%)
  • LaShonda Holloway (D) - 11,004 (13%)

See also


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External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Charles Bennett
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Ted Yoho
Preceded by
Rich Nugent
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Al Lawson