Corrine Brown (born November 11, 1946) is an U.S. Representative for Florida’s 3rd congressional district, serving since 1993. She is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes parts of Duval, Clay, Putnam, Alachua, Volusia, Marion, Lake, Seminole, and Orange Counties.
Early life, education, and academic career
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Brown earned a bachelor of science from Florida A&M University in 1969 In college she became a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, one of four African American Greek letter sororities in the United States. She earned a master’s degree in 1971 and an educational specialist degree from the University of Florida in 1974. 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 Community College at Jacksonville.
Brown served in the Florida House of Representatives for ten years beginning in 1982. From 1985 to 1991 she served as the Representative from the 17th district.
U.S. House of Representatives
After the 1990 census, the Florida legislature carved out a new Third 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 touching on largely African-American neighborhoods in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Orlando, and Ocala, the Third District seemed likely to send Florida’s first African-American to Congress since Reconstruction, and Brown decided to run.
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.
In 1995, the boundaries of the Third District were struck down by the Supreme Court due to their irregular shape. One of the main instigators of the lawsuit that led to the redistricting was Brown’s old political rival, Andy Johnson. Brown railed against the change, complaining that “[t]he Bubba I beat [Johnson] couldn’t win at the ballot box [so] he took it to court,” as she was quoted as saying in the New Republic. Although the district lines were redrawn, Brown still won the 1996 election.
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?”  In October 2009, it was announced that Brown will not run for Senate, and will seek re-election in the House of Representatives.
Brown was one of the 31 representatives who voted against counting the electoral votes from Ohio in the United States presidential election, 2004. 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. On September 29, 2008, Brown voted for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.
On her 2010 political courage test at http://www.votesmart.org, Corrine stated that she supports decriminalization of marijuana (moving from schedule 1 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 we listen to the doctor rather than listening to the police.
Key votes that Brown has made recently include HB 822 National Right To Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 on November 16, 2011 for which she voted against, HR 358, Prohibiting Taxpayer Funding for Abortion, for which she voted against, and HJ Res 68 Authorizing Limited Use of U.S. Armed Forces in Libya for which she was also in favor of.
- Interest Group Ratings
In terms of interest group ratings, Brown holds 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 holds 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 are 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 don’t necessary correlate with Brown’s positions or votes on certain issues during her time as a representative in the House.
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. Brown confirmed receiving the check and denied she had used the money improperly. 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.
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.
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 if Brown had violated House Rule 10. 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.
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.[dead link] 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.”
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.
In June 2007, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released a report listing Brown’s daughter Shantrel Brown-Fields as a congressional lobbyist; the organization maintains that Congressional relatives working as lobbyists for special interests are a conflict of interest for lawmakers. Brown-Fields is employed by Alcalde & Fayte, with clients including ITERA, Miami-Dade County Commission, and Edward Waters College. In 2006, Brown’s campaign committee paid her daughter’s husband, Tyree Fields, $5,500 for political consulting work. Rep. Brown has earmarked millions of dollars in federal funding for her daughter’s client Edward Waters College.
- Campaign Finances
During her 2009-2010 campaign, Corrine Brown raised up to $966,669 from fundraising. Brown’s top contributors included CSX Corporation, a freight transportation company with its headquarters in Jacksonville, FL, Carnival Corp., Picerne Real Estate Group, Union Pacific Corp and Berkshire Hathaway. Brown’s top industry contributors included those railroads, lawyers/farm firms, real estate, transportation unions, and sea transportation. Top sectors in Brown’s 2009-2010 campaign include Transportation, Lawyers & Lobbyists,Labor, Construction,Finance/Insurance/Real Estate. During her campaining, 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