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Embattled Corrine Brown Ousted in Primary

Florida Democrat's campaign had been clouded by legal troubles

Florida Rep. Corrine Brown, who is under indictment for mail and wire fraud, lost her primary Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Florida Rep. Corrine Brown, who is under indictment for mail and wire fraud, lost her primary Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated as of 10: 57 p.m. | Florida Rep. Corrine Brown was defeated in her Democratic primary in the state’s dramatically redrawn 5th District, as she deals with fallout following her indictment on fraud charges in July.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, former state Sen. Al Lawson unseated Brown with 48 percent of the vote to 39 percent for the 12-term congresswoman. Former congressional aide LaShonda Holloway trailed with 13 percent.

Lawson will face Republican Glo Smith in the general election in this seat, rated Safe Democrat by The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.

Brown is the second lawmaker under indictment to lose a House primary this cycle. The other was Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania, who later resigned his seat when he was convicted.

Five incumbents have lost House primaries so far in this election cycle. In addition to Brown and Fattah, three Republicans have been defeated: North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers and Virginia Rep. J. Randy Forbes lost in seats that were redrawn in redistricting. And Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp lost earlier this month to an establishment-backed challenger.

In July, Brown and her chief of staff were charged with mail and wire fraud related to their connection to a group that billed itself as a charity but was not registered as a nonprofit.

In a 24-count indictment, prosecutors alleged Brown and her chief of staff, Elias Simmons, solicited $800,000 to One Door for Education, a group that touted scholarships giveaways to underprivileged students. But prosecutors said that money was used in part to pay for vacations, lavish receptions in Brown’s honor and luxury boxes at concerts and football games.

Prosecutors said only two scholarships that totaled $1,200 were given away. In March, the head of One Door for Education, a Brown associate named Carla Wiley, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Brown had already been under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. The panel announced in March it was investigating the congresswoman over allegations that she used campaign funds for personal purposes, failed to comply with tax laws and made false statements and disclosures to the House and Federal Election Commission.

[Corrine Brown on Ethics Investigation: ‘I am Clean’]

The committee deferred its investigation to the Department of Justice, as it has done in the past for other matters. 

Brown also waged a legal battle over a congressional redistricting plan that dramatically redrew the area she represents from one that stretched north-south from Jacksonville to Orlando to one that runs east-to-west from Jacksonville to west of Tallahassee. Two days after she qualified to run in the newly drawn area, she withdrew an appeal to the Supreme Court after federal District Court judges rejected the case.

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