Corrine Brown

Corrine Brown
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 5th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Rich Nugent
Succeeded by Al Lawson (Elect)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1993  January 3, 2013
Preceded by Charles E. Bennett
Succeeded by Ted Yoho
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 17th district
In office
November 6, 1984  November 3, 1992
Preceded by John Thomas
Succeeded by Constituency redistricted
Personal details
Born (1946-11-11) November 11, 1946
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Children Shantrel (daughter)
Alma mater Florida A&M University
University of Florida

Corrine Brown (born November 11, 1946) is a U.S. Representative for Florida's 5th congressional district, serving in Congress since 1993. She is a member of the Democratic Party. The district included parts of Duval, Clay, Putnam, Alachua, Volusia, Marion, Lake, Seminole, and Orange counties up until 2016. Under a court ruling that affected most of Florida's congressional districts, her district was reconfigured along north-central Florida, stretching from Jacksonville westward towards Tallahassee.

Early life, education, and academic career

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Brown earned a bachelor of science from Florida A&M University in 1969[1][2] 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 State College at Jacksonville.[3]

Florida legislature

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,[4] the Third District seemed likely to send Florida's first African-American to Congress since Reconstruction, and Brown decided to run.[5]

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.[6]

In 1995, the boundaries of the Third District were struck down by the Supreme Court due to their irregular shape.[7] 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.[8]


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?"[9][10] In October 2009, it was announced that Brown would not run for Senate, and would seek re-election in the House of Representatives.[11]


After redistricting, Brown's district was renumbered as the 5th District. It was identified as one of the most gerrymandered districts in the country.[12] The League of Women Voters of Florida and the Florida Democratic Party challenged the new redistricting plan with a lawsuit, saying, in particular, the new District 5 "as enacted by the Florida Legislature stands out among all of the districts as presenting both the most numerous and most flagrant constitutional violations."[13]


In 2015, District 5 was substantially redrawn following a court ruling striking it down as a gerrymander in violation of Florida's Fair Districts Amendment. Brown challenged the new court-ordered map in federal court, arguing that the new plan violated the federal Voting Rights Act. In April 2016, the court ruled against Brown.[14] The new 5th is significantly more compact than its predecessor; it now stretched in an east-west orientation along the Georgia border from Jacksonville to Gadsden County, including most of the majority-black precincts between Jacksonville and Tallahassee. Brown now found herself in a district that was over 62 percent new to her.[15]

In the August 30, 2016 Democratic primary, Brown was defeated by former state senator Al Lawson.[16]


Brown was one of the 31 representatives who voted against counting the electoral votes from Ohio in the United States presidential election, 2004.[17] 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.[2] On September 29, 2008, Brown voted for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.[18][19]

On her 2004 political courage test at, 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.[20]

Brown has received some of her strongest support from religious leaders, organized labor and the sugar industry.[4][21][22]

Key votes that Brown has made recently include HB 822 National Right To Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 on November 16, 2011, which she voted against,[23] HR 358, Prohibiting Taxpayer Funding for Abortion, which she voted against, and HJ Res 68 Authorizing Limited Use of U.S. Armed Forces in Libya, which she was in favor.

In 2003–2005, Brown cosponsored legislation regarding civil rights and foreign relations. She also participated in Michael Moore's "Slacker" college voter drive tour.

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.[24]

Political controversies

National Baptist Convention check

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.[4] Brown confirmed receiving the check and denied she had used the money improperly.[4] 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.[4]


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.[21]

Congressional Accountability Project

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.[25] 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.[4][26][27]

2000 election

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.[28]

Felony fraud indictment

In July 2016, Corinne Brown and her chief of staff, Elias "Ronnie" Simmons, pleaded not guilty to a 24 count federal indictment in relation to a non-profit charity, One Door for Education Foundation Inc. The indictment included charges of participating in a conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, concealing material facts on required financial disclosure forms, theft of government property, obstruction of the due administration of the internal revenue laws, and filing false tax returns.[29] Federal prosecutors allege the charity was to give scholarships to underprivileged students, but instead acted as the personal slush fund for Brown and her associates. The indictment says that Brown and Simmons "filled the coffers of Brown and her associates" with One Door donations for their personal and professional benefit, totaling $800,000, much of which was deposited in cash to Brown's personal bank accounts. Corrine and her associate plead not guilty and were released on a $50,000 bond. After the hearing, Corrine predicted that she would be cleared at trial. In accordance with House of Representatives rules, Brown stated she was temporarily stepping down as a ranking member of the House Committee on Veteran's Affairs.[30][31] House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the charges against Brown "deeply saddening" and said she was right to step down from the Veterans' Affairs committee.[29]

Campaign finances

During her 2009–2010 campaign, Corrine Brown raised up to $966,669 from fundraising. Brown’s top contributors included CSX Corporation, a railroad-based freight transportation company with its headquarters in Jacksonville, FL; Carnival Corp., cruise line operator; Picerne Real Estate Group; Union Pacific Corp and Berkshire Hathaway, which owns BNSF Railway. Brown’s top industry contributors included those railroads, lawyers/farm firms, real estate, transportation unions, and sea transportation.[32] Top sectors in Brown's 2009–2010 campaign included Transportation, Lawyers & Lobbyists, Labor, Construction, Finance/Insurance/Real Estate. During her campaigning, 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.

Committee assignments

Electoral history

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 1992:[33]

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 1994:[34]

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 1996:[35]

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 1998:[36]

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 2000:[37]

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 2002:[38]

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 2004:[39]

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 2006:[40]

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 2008:[40]

Florida's 3rd congressional district, 2010:[41]

Florida's 5th congressional district, 2016 primary:[42]


  1. "Corrine Brown Biography". Archived from the original on February 3, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-03., accessed October 10, 2009
  2. 1 2 Votes Database, Washington Post, accessed October 10, 2009
  3. Brown, Corrine, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Bill Adair and Monica Davey "Rep. Brown explains check from Lyons", St. Petersburg Times, July 28, 1998
  5. Resolution of the State Senate of Alabama Commending Congresswoman Corrine Brown Archived June 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Alabama State Legislature, 2000.
  6. "Concentrating Minority Voters Builds Liberal Strength in the South", Stanford University Graduate School of Business News, April 11, 2004
  7. "The shape of things to come: Cleo Fields is the first to fall as redistricting changes the political map — Blacks in Congress are threatened — Elections '96", Black Enterprise, Oct 1996.
  8. ""Testimony of Professor David Canon"". Archived from the original on July 28, 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-28. (June 21, 2006). Senate testimony.
  9. U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown joins race for Senate seat, The Miami Herald, June 3, 2009, accessed August 23, 2009
  10. Simmons, Ronnie Rep. Corrine Brown announces Senate Exploratory Committee, Westside Gazette, June 3, 2009, accessed August 23, 2009
  11. Kurtz, Josh (October 16, 2009). "Corrine Brown Chooses Re-Election Over 2010 Senate Race". Roll Call. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  12. Ingraham, Christopher (May 15, 2014). "America's most gerrymandered congressional districts". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  13. Dixon, Matt (March 26, 2012). "Florida Democrats file lawsuit on Congress maps, cite Corrine Brown's district". Florida Times-Union. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
  14. Cotterell, Bill (April 18, 2016). "Court rejects bid to throw out Florida congressional map". Tallahassee Democrat. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  15. Daily Kos Elections congressional district redistribution analysis (post-2010 census)
  16. Cotterell, Bill (August 30, 2016). "Al Lawson defeats Corrine Brown in U.S. House District 5 primary". Tallahassee Democrat. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  17. Final vote results for roll call 7, January 6, 2005
  18. Bailout roll call, September 29, 2008, retrieved on September 29, 2008
  19. What has Corrine Brown done for the middle class, accessed October 10, 2009
  20. "Project Vote Smart – Representative Corrine Brown – Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)". Retrieved August 23, 2010.
  21. 1 2 Monica Davey, David Barstow and David Dahl "Lawmaker got $10,000 from Lyons fund" St. Petersburg Times, April 14, 1998
  22. Corrine Brown PAC contributions 2007-8,
  23. Final Vote Results For Roll Call 852; November 16, 2011
  24. "Corrine Brown's Ratings and Endorsements – The Voter's Self Defense System – Vote Smart". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  25. Ethics complaint.
  26. Ethics Report Press Release; House.Ethics.Gov; September 21, 2000
  27. "Statement of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in the Matter of Representative Corrine Brown" (September 21, 2000).
  28. David Decamp , The Florida Times-Union, July 16, 2004
  29. 1 2 Kevin Bohn. "Rep. Corrine Brown indicted for alleged role regarding fraudulent education charity". CNN. CNN. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  31. "US Rep. Corrine Brown Indicted After Fraud Investigation". ABC News. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  32. "Rep. Corrine Brown". Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  33. 1 2 "House Races". The New York Times.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Charles Bennett
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Ted Yoho
Preceded by
Rich Nugent
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Al Lawson
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Sanford Bishop
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Ken Calvert
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