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EXCLUSIVE Here’s a story about politics and strange bedfellows. Oprah Winfrey is actively campaigning for 8th district possible Virginia congressional candidate Lavern Chatman despite the woman’s controversial background.

Chatman  is one of 11 candidates in a June 10 primary in Arlington, Virginia to become the Democratic congressional candidate.

But get this: she really lives in North Carolina, where her second husband, Robert Brown, is a major black Republican, former aide to Richard Nixon, consistent donor to the Republican party, and close associate of scandal-plagued right wing North Carolina Republican governor Pat McCrory.

(Chatman’s rep says she has lived in Alexandria, Virginia since 1993.)

Also: Chatman herself is at the center of a scandal concerning a 2001 finding by a civil court judge that she helped  defraud nursing home workers of $1.4 million. The decision was subsequently upheld.

Chatman’s defense now is that she was grieving her first wealthy husband and didn’t know what was going on.

In upholding the judgement against her, the appeals judges wrote of Chatman, the woman Oprah is hoping makes it to Congress:

“The court also found appellant and [Chatman’s co-defendant] Littlejohn jointly and severally liable for $1.4 million in punitive damages, ruling that there was “clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Littlejohn and Ms. Chatman acted with evil motive, actual malice and with willful disregard for the rights of the plaintiffs.” The court characterized their behavior as “outrageous and grossly fraudulent,” especially considering the disparity in wealth between appellant and Littlejohn and the “people whom they scammed.”

(I added the boldface.) You can read the whole saga of Chatman’s skullduggery here. http://statecasefiles.justia.com/documents/district-of-columbia/court-of-appeals/01-cv-861-5.pdf?ts=1323894159

In April, Oprah and boyfriend Stedman Graham attended a Chatman fundraiser. Oprah said: “Stedman and I came here tonight to support Lavern Chatman,” Winfrey said, according to a press release from Chatman’s campaign. “I’ve seen how Lavern embraced with her whole heart being a host mom to one of my girls, who recently graduated from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa. Lavern makes people feel like they matter, and I see that Lavern is happiest when she is serving others.”

This was after Oprah was apprised of Chatman’s past.

Chatman has been married twice. She’s the widow (and the third  wife) of  James Icelius Chatman. He was much older, and also a rarity: a former Colonel who started a military company called Technology Applications. Chatman sold the company to DynCorp and served on its board for years. DynCorp is literally at the center of the military-industrial complex, with HQ near the CIA and the Pentagon. According to Wikipedia. at one point DynCorp provided bodyguards to such luminaries as Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide in the 1990s and to Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the 2000s.

After Chatman died, Lavern married North Carolina PR man Robert Brown, a black Republican who served as a special adviser to Richard Nixon from 1968-73. Nixon  actually hosted a dinner honoring him. Brown is a player in southern Republican politics. Federal records show he donated money to both George W. Bush’s and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns.

Brown has given many donations to Republican party and candidates in NC. He served as an adviser in the transition when McCrory became governor. As a PR consultant, Brown is very heavy in big pharma, gas and oil. He’s served on the boards of Duke Energy and Sonoco, and has represented Merck and Novartis. (Coincidentally, McCrory worked for Duke Energy for 27 years before he became governor. Duke Energy donated $1 million to his gubernatorial campaign.)

Very carefully, Chatman sticks to her first husband’s name and little is being said in her congressional race about Brown or her life with him. When the Washington Post reported the story of Oprah attending Chatman’s fundraiser, they didn’t even mention Brown, or the fact that the couple lives in North Carolina.

Brown even gave money to Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms.

I can’t imagine what Brown and Winfrey talk about when they’re together. These are Oprah’s not only BFFs, she’s actively supporting the wife getting into Congress. Oprah. Winfrey.


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