Reynolds Brown's husband had Fattah earmark rejected

Posted: January 31, 2013

During the heyday of congressional earmarks in 2004, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) won a $750,000 grant for the company of Philadelphia City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown's husband to tell golf course managers how to have ecologically friendly greens.

The grant was approved by Congress but blocked by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It became a poster child for bad earmarks.

"EPA officials concluded there was nothing new or innovative being proposed by the program," the agency inspector general wrote about Howard A. Brown's Environmental & Sports Inc. "The applicant did not have sufficient expertise to perform the work."

The report, which did not mention the names of Howard Brown or Fattah, said "staff of the congressman that provided the earmark" were told of the agency's action.

Fattah's spokesman Ron Goldwyn said only that "not one dollar was ever provided. The requester decided not to proceed with the program." Goldwyn declined to say why Fattah considered the project worthy of the earmark.

Howard Brown, who has been separated from his wife for three years, works as controller for the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. He was mentioned in passing in a settlement agreement released Monday between the councilwoman and the city Board of Ethics.

Reynolds Brown maintained that in 2010, she borrowed $3,300 from Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr., son of the representative, because her estranged husband had refused to make mortgage payments on their house.

The councilwoman would later pay Fattah Jr. back with campaign funds, an ethics violation.

Howard Brown said Tuesday that the earmark from Fattah was unrelated to his wife's position on Council. Reynolds Brown worked for Rep. Fattah when he was a state senator in the 1990s.

Brown said he was volunteer treasurer of the Fattah-supported Educational Advancement Alliance Inc., a Philadelphia nonprofit. He said he and Fattah discussed having students participate in the golf project as a way "to work in the community."

He said he was not able to complete all the requirements to get earmark money. "We didn't set it up in time," he said. "We didn't want to rush it, so we just let it go."

In the late 2000s, earmarks were dramatically reduced, and there are congressional proposals to ban them.


Contact Mark Fazlollah at 215-854-5831 or mfazlollah@phillynews.com

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