Corrine Brown, a former Democratic congresswoman from Jacksonville and a convicted felon, seeks a return ticket to Capitol Hill
Brown, who spent 24 years in Congress in one of Florida’s most gerrymandered districts in modern memory, announced Thursday that she is running for the newly redrawn 10th Congressional District. That district largely represents the Orlando area.
The last time the 75-year-old ran, she was defeated by current Congressman Al Lawson, a Tallahassee Democrat.
“I’ve represented most of the people of the new 10th District during my 24 years in Congress and I always earned huge support in this region,” Brown said in a statement posted on her campaign website.
“Now I see our hard-won gains are being taken away from us. Minorities have lost opportunities to elect candidates of their choice because of the recent gerrymandering in the State of Florida. Over the past two decades, we’ve gone backward on guns – and more of our children are dying. We’ve gone backward on voting rights – and more of our people are disenfranchised. And we’re going backward on a woman’s right to choose – and more women are going to be harmed. We’ve got to turn this country around, move forward instead of backward. That’s what this campaign is all about.”
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Brown added that “there are far too many innocent people wrongly imprisoned.” “Too many people whose lives have been ruined because of a racially biased and broken judicial system,” she said. “If nobody else is going to stand up to right these wrongs and fight for those who are being denied their God-given rights to freedom, justice, and the ability to participate in our democratic system, I will!”
The last time she was in Congress, Brown represented an area that swung west from her hometown in Jacksonville to the Ocala area and then south to Orlando. The district, like the one Lawson now holds, reaching from Jacksonville to west of Tallahassee, was intended to help blacks get elected to Congress.
In 2017, a year after Lawson defeated her in the primary, Brown was convicted of 18 counts of fraud. The feds accused her of funneling money from her campaign account and a nonprofit education foundation to her personal accounts.
An FBI accountant testified during her trial that Brown took about $159,000 and claimed she gave it to charitable causes, which she didn’t. Nor did she declare it as income to the IRS.
She was sentenced to five years in prison. But she was released in 2020 after seeking a mercy release because of the pandemic.
A federal appellate court last year ruled that Brown’s trial was tainted when a pro-Brown juror was dismissed from the trial after saying the Holy Spirit told him she was innocent. The court ordered a new trial.
But last month, after federal prosecutors said they would not retry her, the trial judge in the case accepted a plea deal in which Brown admitted to one count of obstructing federal tax laws. She was sentenced to time already served and ordered to pay about $93,000 in restitution.
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“I helped the people of Orlando when the Pulse shooting happened. I helped when the hurricanes hit. I worked with the community by coordinating relief aid after an earthquake devastated Haiti. And I led the fight when Trayvon Martin was viciously gunned down,” Brown said in her campaign statement.
“I carry the people of Orlando in my heart wherever I go. And they have responded with an outcry of support and prayer that has touched my heart. To them I say, thank you for your continued prayers and support! I will continue to fight to make sure your voice is heard. To God be the glory!”
Brown will face a familiar face in the Democratic primary: Former Congressman Alan Grayson, a left-wing firebrand from Orlando who once claimed the Republicans’ healthcare plan was for people to die.