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Kwame Brown's SUV returned to DPW; D.C. Council member Tommy Wells confirms he has called for investigation

February 22, 2011 - 04:39 PM
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D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown said in a statement today that he is returning his controversial city-owned "fully-loaded" SUV to the city's Department of Public Works today, and that he intends to reimburse the city for his "share of the use of the vehicle once the Attorney General renegotiates the lease agreement."

He also tells ABC7's Stephen Tschida that he didn't know the cost of the vehicle.

Revelations came out in the Washington Post this weekend that Brown asked the city to buy him an extra-special SUV for his personal use at a cost of thousands of dollars a month. On Tuesday, Ward 6 D.C. Council member Tommy Wells confirmed to ABC7 News that he is calling for an investigation of all city-owned vehicles used by city officials.

Brown's decision to return the Lincoln Navigator to the Department of Public Works doesn't break the nearly $2,000-a-month lease, and the city is still on the hook for its cost. In the release, Brown asks Attorney General Irv Nathan to search for a way to end the contract. The city is also paying for a second Lincoln Navigator that Brown rejected because it didn't have the requested black-on-black interior. That car had already been returned to the DPW fleet.

Brown told ABC7 he thought the city canceled the lease for his first navigator. He said he didn’t know the vehicles he ordered up for his personal use cost some $2,000 a piece per month.

“I had no idea what the cost of the vehicle was,” he told ABC7. “What I asked for was a black SUV.”

Leasing of such extravagant vehicles at a time when the District is confronting staggering deficits has some city taxpayers outraged.

“For spending money on cars and worrying what color the car is – that is irresponsible,” said District resident Emily Hargrove.

Brown said he told the city to take back both Lincoln Navigators and cancel the leases.

“When we found out it was $1,900 which is which is unacceptable,” he told ABC7. “And the real piece here is what are we paying for all of our vehicles.”

The full release is after the jump:

(Washington, DC) – Chairman Kwame R. Brown made the following statement today regarding the District’s lease of the Lincoln Navigator assigned to the Office of the Chairman by the Department of Public Works (DPW):

“I apologize for the disruption this has caused, and I regret that I appeared insensitive to the financial challenges our city and residents face. As Chairman of the Council, it is my duty to make responsible fiscal decisions regarding the District’s use of tax payer dollars. The fact that DPW procured the vehicle for nearly $2,000 a month is an unacceptable use of city funds.

I have made that clear to DPW Director, Bill Howland, and returned the vehicle to DPW today. DPW, in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, will make a determination regarding the disposition of the lease. I intend to reimburse the city for my share of the use of the vehicle once the Attorney General renegotiates the lease agreement.

To be clear, I have returned the only vehicle of which I have had possession in my capacity as Chairman of the Council. The first Lincoln Navigator procured by DPW was returned to DPW, and it was my understanding that the vehicle would be returned to the leasing company at no cost to the District. I learned just this weekend that the vehicle was maintained as part of the District fleet.

I look forward to continuing to focus on education reform, getting our people back to work and getting the District’s economy back on track.”

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