Delaware Senate ethics committee to investigate conduct of Sen. Darius Brown
DOVER, Del. – Senator Darius Brown has been stripped of another committee and faces an investigation from the Senate ethics committee after an incident where Brown allegedly yelled at house member Melanie Minor Brown at a bill signing.
Senator Brian Pettyjohn, one of the 6 members of the ethics committee, tells us this is not the first time this has happened.
“We are seeing this is not an isolated incident reported of Senator Brown being abusive whether it’s verbally or physically to another person,” he said, adding, “Earlier this year there was an incident at a restaurant in Wilmington where he is accused of assaulting another person he was with also a woman.”
Pettyjohn tells us that incident led to the revoking of his chairmanship of the Judicial Committee, as well as criminal charges against Brown in a trial that’s set to begin on December 1st. He says he believes accountability needs to happen, to ensure a safe working environment for everyone who works in the state senate.
“The Majority of the staff we have are females and this is the second incident that we know about regarding actions towards a female,” Senator Pettyjohn said adding that actions were taken by Senate President Pro Tempore Sokola “removed [Brown] from the capital improvement and bonds committee.
But, further action would require a vote after an investigation by the ethics committee, which, according to committee chair Elizabeth Lockman, is set to begin in 2 to 3 weeks. She tells us that timing would line up with Senator Brown’s criminal trial, and while she hopes to see some of that evidence in their investigation, she stresses that the scope of the committee’s investigation is not criminal.
“I think it is important to understand that we are not the court and so it was never a role for us to play to adjudicate a criminal charge but it is our role to consider conduct unbecoming,” she said adding “Our role is to consider the evidence that we call forth and make a recommendation to our colleagues and that could be a range of actions.”
Senator Pettyjohn tells us the 6-person panel doesn’t decide if he will face those consequences, but rather if his conduct rises to the level of calling a vote.
“If there is any further action such as a censure or suspension or expulsion that would have to be something that is taken up by the entire body with a minimum two-thirds vote to enact,” Senator Pettyjohn said.
He tells us it only takes one of the 6 senators on the committee to find the conduct objectionable to trigger that vote.