Is Carol Moseley-Braun a crook?

Answers to your questions about the news.
Feb. 19 2003 6:35 PM

Is Carol Moseley-Braun a Crook?

Moseley-Braun: certain to be on the hot seat as a candidate
Moseley-Braun: certain to be on the hot seat as a candidate

Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun yesterday entered the Democratic presidential fray. Her one-term Senate tenure was plagued by scandals, highlighted by a fracas over whether she misspent $249,000 in campaign donations. What, exactly, was Moseley-Braun accused of?

Though she was never indicted or punished, Moseley-Braun had some close calls with the law. The first occurred during her 1992 Senate campaign, when it came to light that three years earlier, she had deposited a check for $28,750 into a personal money-market account. The check in question actually belonged to Moseley-Braun's mother, who owned a property in Alabama on which she'd sold the timber-harvesting rights; the $28,750 was a royalty payment. Edna Moseley was staying in a Chicago nursing home at the time and relying on Medicaid to cover her expenses, something ostensibly reserved only for the near-indigent—not people with $28,750 checks to their name. The royalty should have been used to reimburse Medicaid; instead, Moseley-Braun divvied up the money with her two siblings. When the situation came to light, she apologized and paid Medicaid $15,240. The Illinois Department of Public Aid declined to launch a criminal probe.

Moseley-Braun's post-victory honeymoon was brief. Even before she arrived in Washington, she was blasted for rewarding several campaign workers with cushy jobs at her old office, the Cook County recorder of deeds. Her campaign manager and then-fiance, Kgosie Matthews, was accused of sexual harassment by several Moseley-Braun campaign staffers; the newly minted senator stood by her man, to whom she'd been paying a salary of $15,000 per month. To celebrate their '92 victory, the pair jetted off to Matthews' native South Africa on a 27-day vacation, making use of the Concorde for one leg of their trip; several aides, meanwhile, complained that they hadn't been paid.

The real doozy, though, was $249,000 in unaccounted campaign expenditures, which spurred a Federal Election Commission investigation beginning in 1993. The FEC was investigating charges that Moseley-Braun and Matthews had squandered the donations on personal trips and shopping sprees; the campaign would admit only to lackadaisical bookkeeping and eventually filed nearly 10,000 pages of amended reports, according to the Chicago Tribune. The nearly five-year investigation did turn up some splurges, like a $4,000 tab at the Four Seasons Hotel in Maui, but the agency declined to take legal action, citing a lack of resources. The Justice Department similarly turned down two requests from the Internal Revenue Service to investigate Moseley-Braun for criminal misappropriation of campaign funds.

Yet the damage was done. Not helping matters was Moseley-Braun's 1996 trip to Nigeria, where she met with the late military dictator Sani Abacha—whose oppressive government was a client of Matthews, then a Beltway lobbyist. The journey, one of at least half-a-dozen she took to Africa during her Senate stay, was heavily criticized by the State Department, human-rights groups, and other African-American members of Congress.

Republican Peter Fitzgerald beat Moseley-Braun by 4 percentage points in the 1998 election. When the Tribune asked whether she'd ever run for office again, the departing senator replied: "Read my lips. Not. Never. Nein. Nyet."

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Natasha Lyonne Is Coming to the Live Culture Gabfest. Are You?

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 2 2014 9:19 AM Alibaba’s Founder on Why His Company Is Killing It in China
  Life
Outward
Oct. 2 2014 9:58 AM No Word Yet From the Supreme Court on Gay Marriage 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 10:04 AM Wearing the Button-Down Shirt of the Boy You Once Loved
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 2 2014 9:49 AM In Medicine We Trust Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?