Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), an embattled 12-term incumbent under federal indictment, lost her primary Tuesday night to Democratic challenger Al Lawson.
Brown’s re-election bid was dogged by her federal indictment on 22 charges that include conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax violations. The 54-page indictment accuses the 69-year-old congresswoman and her chief of staff of setting up an unregistered charity to raise $800,000 for a fake scholarship that was actually a personal slush fund used for car repairs, air travel and even Beyonce tickets. If convicted, Brown faces a maximum of 357 years in prison and a fine of $4 million.
Brown told News 4 Jacksonville on Tuesday the charges don’t concern her.
“It does not have me worried. It started with the redistricting. [Constitutents] understood that that was a movement to take me out to change my district,” Brown said. “All these charges came about right at the qualifying, so people are a lot more sophisticated than some people may think.”
Brown has faced questions over her finances before. In 1999, for example, she was investigated by a House ethics subcommittee after a $50,000 Lexus purchased by an African banker ended up registered under her daughter’s name. Brown had lobbied on behalf of the banker’s boss to stay out of federal prison.
Earlier this year, Brown unsuccessfully appealed a 2015 Florida’s Supreme Court decision that redrew eight of the state’s congressional districts, including Brown’s 5th District, which includes portions of Jacksonville and Orlando. The 5th has been called one of America’s most gerrymandered districts, snaking its way up the state sometimes as narrowly as the width of an interstate highway, sweeping in primarily black neighborhoods.
Lawson, a former member of the state Senate, will face Republican Glo Smith in the November general election for the congressional seat.