One Democratic congressional hopeful has been caught up in a corruption scandal just days before a primary election.
Shontel Brown, whose campaign was endorsed by 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, is accused of steering millions of dollars in public contracts to companies connected to her romantic partner during her term as a councilwoman in Ohio.
“Unlawful interest in a public contract”
The alleged corruption was first detailed earlier this year in a report by The Intercept.
That outlet asserted that Brown, who served as a Cuyahoga County councilwoman since 2015, steered roughly $17 million in government contracts to the Perk Company, a construction firm operated by her partner, Mark Perkins.
Brown also reportedly received $13,000 in campaign donations from the Perkins family and the Cifani family, the company’s current owners.
In response to these reports, the state auditor’s office referred Brown to the state ethics commission for an investigation. It is a felony in Ohio to maintain an “unlawful interest in a public contract.”
She is currently running against former state Sen. Nina Turner for the seat vacated when Marcia Fudge accepted a Cabinet position in the Biden administration. Whichever Democrat wins the upcoming primary is expected to win the deep-blue district. Turner is already capitalizing on the brewing scandal.
“Shontel made history”
“This is certainly a shocking revelation and it raises very serious ethical and legal questions,” her campaign insisted in a statement.
In addition to a nod from Clinton, Brown has received support from a number of establishment Democrats, including party kingmaker Rep. Jim Clyburn (R-SC), as well as a pro-Israel political action committee.
Clinton issued her endorsement in a tweet last month, writing: “Shontel made history as the first Black woman to chair her county Dem party, and she’ll work to help her state and our country recover from COVID.”
Turner’s fundraising efforts almost immediately improved after Clinton endorsed her opponent. Nevertheless, Brown touted the support and called Clinton an “inspiration” and a “champion for working families.”
The primary election is set for Aug. 8. Fudge created the vacancy when she accepted President Joe Biden’s nomination to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development.