By on February 22, 2011

You’d think that a place with “taxation without representation” on its license plates would pay close attention to fiscal decisions, but according to a fascinating Washington Post story, when it comes to cars, all bets are off. District of Columbia Council Chairman Kwame Brown has claimed for months that his leased Lincoln Navigator was simply issued to him by the District, but thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, it has been discovered that Brown simply bullied his way into a $1,900/month “fully loaded” Navigator lease that had to be sourced all the way from Kansas City.

The story might just seem aggravating if you may be asked to pay for D.C.’s $440m budget shortfall, but it’s also a fascinating insight into government vehicle sourcing. We’ve covered some strange government vehicle purchases before, but we’ve never before seen exactly how politicians go about securing their unnecessarily flash rides. The key: just insist on the best and don’t take no for an answer. Read the whole thing. [Hat Tip: Brady Holt]

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48 Comments on ““Fully Loaded Required”: How Politicians Score Sweet Rides...”


  • avatar

    These politicians have always been having a grand old party on our backs, but, now that the budget squeeze is on, they insist they balance the budget off our backs.  As a “Middle class” tax payer who ended up making “too much money in 2010″ and now owe the government, I am absolutely pissed the f off.  If they keep this B.S. up, American streets are gonna look like Libya.

    • 0 avatar
      AJ

      No doubt! Screw a balanced budget as our backs are hurting. I say let’s leave it on the backs of our kids, grandkids and their kids! Of course I don’t have kids, so your kids will do. ;)

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    completely idiotic, greedy and precious with a cavalier attitude to money
     
    smacks of the whole george orwell pigs being equal but some being more equal than others
     
     they should all be punished by being allocated ex rental Sebrings

    shows a complete comtempt for propriety

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Is there some law that forbids the city from negotiating the purchase price of their cars or do they have to pay full asking price?  Was this incorporated into the Bush Prescription Drug bill along with the rule that forbid government negotiation of drug prices?

    Seriously, $1,800/month on a lease for a Lincoln? 

    If they are going to be this generous, they should at least have leased a vehicle from one of the government-owned car manufacturers.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      It isn’t altruism that makes dealership owners cough up campaign contributions.
       
      You don’t walk into a $22,000/year lease by not shopping around.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Omnifan

      Don’t you realize that a vehicle from a government-owned manufacturer wouldn’t hold its resale value as it would from a non-government owned manufacturer?

    • 0 avatar

      Or put another way: the government-controlled automakers already got their taxpayer money, no reason to send them a dime more, thanks.
       
      Nice to see Ford profit handsomely here — and no, I don’t fault Ford or the dealer for taking the District for all they could. The fault lies with Kwame for being a) crooked, b) blindingly ignorant, or c) both.

  • avatar
    ajla

    What is it about politicians named Kwame and ill-gotten Lincoln Navigators?

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      You beet me to it. I was going to post the same thing.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      it’s really not politically correct to make that assertion
      and it buggers me that the big three were able to get in such a parlous state with such absolute morons buying their crap with public moneys…

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      ajla:

      Funny..
      I quite literally got him confused with the OTHER dimwit Mayor who got tossed out of Detroit, Michigan.

    • 0 avatar
      joe_thousandaire

      Don’t forget the other Kwame Brown that the Wizards drafted no1 overall, though he’s easily forgetable. Either the name itself is cursed, or the type of parents that name their child Kwame simply aren’t any more up to the task of raising a successful citizen than there were at picking out baby names.

    • 0 avatar
      Omnifan

      Kwame Kilpatrick was into Cadillac Escalades, not Navigators.  His wife had the Navigator that, when the press found out, was then reassigned to the police department.  When the press found out about that, all they got was a stiff “no comment” from whatever top cop was driving it.  Then it got parked in the police garage until the lease ran out and it was returned.

  • avatar
    lmike51b

    Kwame Brown and his ilk are a stench in my nostrils.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      He’s no different than any of the others. To climb to the top anywhere, you’ve got to be the kind looking out for number one to the exclusion of all else. Otherwise those who do, climb past you. It doesn’t matter if you,re in banking, politics, or any other business. If you look out for your peers, and they don’t reciprocate… well, you just don’t get to where you’re in a position to bully people into getting you loaded Navigators.
       
      So, the moral of the story is, you will be ruled by scum. And the question ought to be, how much power do you want the inevitable ruling scumbag to have over you? Not how do you find a scumbag capable of fooling you into believing he is somehow not one.
       

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The taxpayers are paying almost two thousand a month to lease a Lincoln Navigator L because Kwame claims he was concerned that the one they are also paying almost $1,800 a month for is depreciating too fast due to its grey interior. This is why whatever we’re paying our union teachers is too much.

    • 0 avatar
      WRohrl

      The one that he is worried about excessive depreciation on is the CHEAPER one, so it looks like he’s wrong about that as well…

      In any case, it’s a lease, depreciation is built in, that’s the whole beauty and selling point of a lease, you know up front your total cost of the vehicle.

      If this isn’t criminal it should be.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Walter,

      I understand that lower depreciation shouldn’t lead to a higher lease rate, but that is only part of it. Kwame thought the depreciation argument justified paying a higher lease rate so that he could watch movies in the black back seat. That’s what he thinks of his constituents, and he is right. The higher price probably isn’t due to a higher rate of depreciation. It is probably due to the higher cap cost of the loaded Navigator combined with the dealer wrapping his mind around just how big of a moronic tit he had in his grasp. DC voters deserve no better. They rallied around that crack whoremonger Marion Barry too. Too bad we’re only a little better off nationally at the moment, but people seem to be learning.

  • avatar
    forraymond

    Yes, Steve.  Bush had a Grand Old Party lining the pockets of the drug manufacturers with that horse s*hit Prescription Drug Handout.
     
    It’s kinda sick that the deficit is now a problem, when the surplus that we had was gone so quickly under the GOP.  the same GOP bitching so loudly about deficits now.  Hypocritical, IMHO.
     
    That gubmint employee should have to pay the difference between a gumbint issue Impala and the overpriced POS he got.

  • avatar
    1st_one

    As a resident and homeowner in the District, this saddens me that our tax dollars are being flushed down the toilet with no regards. However, that’s not the worst part; the worst part is his horrible taste in a vehicle that dates back to 1998!! At least he could use my tax dollars on a more tasteful vehicle! Stupid politicians!! SMDH

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I was not aware Lincoln Navigators were expensive, after all, I only run your city.
    Do dee do.
     

  • avatar
    RGS920

    I think the silver lining to this story is that even the powerful have difficulty getting the exact car they bargained for with the dealer. 

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      The funny part…
       
      They looked through 6 states… and had the fucker driven down from MICHIGAN for 1500. I think its hysterical. He went through PA, NJ, DE, MD.. and couldn’t find another (saves THOSE COMMENTS) Navigator L . . . . . to suit his shitty needs.
       
      Id love to throw rocks.. or eggs at this bastard.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    Protect yourself and the future by not reelecting incumbents.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I know their is a chance I will get lambasted for this…

    But, why can’t  these guys buy their own cars?

    Everyone else I know has to buy their own car. 

  • avatar
    Acc azda atch

    Someone please tell me…
     
    How in the hell do ya find a Town Car that retails for 1700mo?! These damn things aren’t worth 40g and from what I remember.. they are all fleet sales.
     
    And do remind me..
    Who has the power to tell this nutcase (for lack of a more aggressive word) NO

  • avatar
    redliner

    “You’r paying my $2,000 monthly lease and all I got was a stink’n Lincoln.”
    I propose a reasonable solution. How bout this. You can have anything you want under 40k. Anything over 40k, and the difference comes out of your pocket.
     Or even better, give them all Impalas and Tahoes. If they don’t like it, they can buy their own.

    • 0 avatar
      prattworks

      40K?  How about 15K?  They get a tan Chevy Cobalt – anything more and it’s on their dime.  Better yet – drive your own car and we the people will reimburse you for mileage.

  • avatar
    prattworks

    I’ve never understood why public officials at this level have cars provided to them.  To what end?  And engaging staff in the practice of shopping for a car seems like a colossal waste and misuse of their time.  Growing up in a rural state, our Governor drove himself to the state capital in his own pickup truck.  He did have a reserved space, but probably wouldn’t have complained if he hadn’t.  There are absolutely brilliant public servants out there – I know many of them personally who are models of efficiency and propriety.  But there seem to be plenty that confuse public service with self service.

  • avatar
    M 1

    The greater tragedy is that voters actually elect these people in the first place.
     
    The corollary to “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” must be “If you voted for that guy,  you’re part of the problem…”

  • avatar
    findude

    My thinking on this is shaped by my teenage years in California when young Jerry Brown was elected governor. He declined a chauffeured limo and instead drove a government-issue Plymouth Satellite. Despite/because of that he even got the girl (Linda Ronstadt).

  • avatar
    Zackman

    …After reading this, I just sit back and think for a moment about when I used to work in Civil Service from 1975 – 1980, and when I had to go to the car pool to arrange for a car to go downtown to buy art supplies and got my pick of any number of beige, light green, white and light blue stripped AMC Hornets and Concords! Exactly, pray tell, where did I go wrong?

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      I was in the same situation at one point.
      There’s a wide gulf between the rank-and-file government employees and the people who get these kind of perks.
      Rule of thumb: the proles don’t get replaced with the new party every election cycle, but are the first to get screwed when the budget is getting worked out.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      @aristurtle: Yeah, there’s that, too. Just one reason I left Civil Service. Believe-it-or-not, two years of the hardest, most hectic job I ever had was my first job in C.S. The two guys I worked with at that time became and are still very good friends and discussed this very subject on a Skype video call last evening! We still laugh about working in our “M*A*S*H-like pressure cooker evnironment and how we let off steam and were really wild and irreverent of any authority and weren’t afraid to show it! After two years of that, I transferred – er – was “riffed” to the Military Personnel Records Center in suburban St. Louis, and that’s where I saw a whole different, dirty side of C.S. I had to work pretty hard, as well as a few others who were actually conscientous about their jobs, and then you saw groups of people who did nothing but walk the halls all day, that made me sick, but you faced real trouble if you felt like filing a complaint. I won’t go into details, but I got out back into the private sector as soon as I could and never looked back!

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    This sorta stuff is so sick.  It really is.  As we spend into oblivion, people who should be “leaders” do garbage like this.
     
    And what’s with Navigators and the name Kwame being the standard names and rides of mayoral scandals?
     
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1050267,00.html

  • avatar
    threeer

    @aspade…thank you.  Finally.  All of the bickering between the “it’s the Democrat’s fault” and the “it’s the Republican’s fault” does NOTHING to move us foward.  It’s all of OUR fault…dem/rep…you and I.  We (I mean that in the collective) elected these morons.  Luckily, we have the ability to provide our own form of revolution every four or so years.  It’s called “voting.”  Novel thing, that.
    As for cars being assigned to elected officials…to a point, I’m okay with that.  But give them all a choice of fleet vehicles (to make it fair, how about a parking lot lined with Impalas, Fusions and maybe 200s…pick you color of gray).  What this dolt pulled is waste/fraud/abuse, and he should be severely punished, if not canned, for his greed. 

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I love how Mr. Chairman pleads innocence and ignorance regarding the monthly cost of his all-but-bespoke ride, to which I can only respond in my most obnoxious voice possible: “BUSSSSTED!”

    If you’re council chairman, you should by now have developed Cost-O-Vision, the kind of vision where you see the price tag on absolutely everything the government touches.

    That is, of course, unless you believe the government budget is simply your own bank account, to which your constituents are legally obligated to contribute. He’d have sounded more sincere if he’d just said “No, seriously, I really didn’t think I’d be caught!”

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      philadlj:
       
      Very nice to see someone fimilar from JALOPNIK..
      Can you imagine the shit STORM Nutter would bring on if he even thought about mentioning a specced out luxury vehicle for his own personal use? Forget trying to pawn off a ancient Town Car for 1800mo. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the CONCEPT of one of those being worth that much, knowing the factory is closing and the cars are never worth that price. On top of only being avail for fleet sales.
       
      I hope this bastard get audited or at least has some oversight official on his funky ass for misappropriation of govt funds. Its unthinkable to be that deep in debt or as deep as every other racially mixed city like Detroit, Phila, NY and still spec out ya own ext length Black on Black Luxo Expedition.

      Thats OUR money at work people (those who live in the District).
      I say we go down there.. and pretend its Paris Hilton or some skank celeb and stalk the vehicle. Steal the wheels and get it towed to a lot.
       
      Funny,
      I sent this link to jalopnik 2 days before autoblog or TCC had it.. and I have yet to get any credit.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    [Sigh]  At least the snowplow-and-salt crews have been very diligent this year, unlike in the good ol’ daze of the last Barry administration.
    BTW “Taxation without representation” on our license plates refers to our lack of voting representation in Congress . . . while the Congress has to approve our city budget, even though something like 80% of the money in that budget comes from city taxes.
    That said, the root of that problem is the same as the root of this problem: DC is a one-party place.  In the ’00 presidential race (yes, Virginia, we do get to vote for President), Ralph Nader got more votes in DC than did George W. Bush.  Effectively, the only election that matters is the Democratic primary.  What this means is that anyone challenging an incumbent lacks the strength of an organization behind him/her, that would be the case in a two-party system.
    By law, two DC council seats have to be from the minority party.  Currently, one of those seats is occupied by an openly gay Republican, who said at some point in the late 2000s that he couldn’t maintain his self-respect and simultaneously call himself a Republican (in light of the GOP’s pretty vocal anti-gay stances).  The second seat is occupied by a former Democrat who, dis-affiliated from the Democratic Party and ran as an “independent.”  (Yeah, right!)  The seat formerly was occupied by a Republican woman who, for the last several terms, was just “phoning it in.”  So, it would be fair to say that Republicans are complicit in their own demise here.  For the past decade or more DC has become increasingly affluent, but the Republican party’s infatuation with the “religious right” and “social conservatives” have prevented it from converting here.
    Having dealt with all of these people over the years, I can say that Kwame Brown is a nice guy and is not a crook.  However, like too many of DC’s elected officials, he comes from a family background where everyone had a “gubmint” job and has that kind of mentality.
    Interestingly, our former mayor, Adrian Fenty, came from a family that operated a small business (a running shoe store), not a gubmint job.  In terms of running the city, he did a great job.  However, as a politician, he was a failure: he was perceived as too close to the real estate development interests and he did not cultivate the various interest groups that make up the city, even as his schools chancellor was “taking names and numbers” in the disastrous public school system.

  • avatar
    dave-the-rave

    This would have made for a great sketch on ‘Chapelle’s Show.’

  • avatar

    This post is great, people in politics should not get cars like this paid for by us.

  • avatar
    JMII

    While he was at it he should have asked for a matching Jetski and a helicopter too… since clearly he gets whatever he wants. Must have been fun at his house Christmas morning.
    They should have given him an SUV that the police got during a drug bust. Those are free.

  • avatar
    gator marco

    First time I saw a Navigator, back in the 1990′s, I wondered what kind of moron would actually believe that a gussied up F-150 could be “luxurious.” There is nothing wrong with making your work vehicle comfortable, but luxury and pickup don’t go together.
    After reading the article, I see that policitians are the suckers who fall for such nonsense, and taxpayers are the ones paying the bill.


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