Brown’s conversations and his decision to quit the panel fueled rampant speculation that the 41-year-old is preparing to step aside as a federal investigation of his finances and 2008 campaign intensifies. If true, he would become the second council member under scrutiny by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to resign this year.
But after a day when reporters stalked him and some of his colleagues drew up plans for a possible post-Brown council, he met with reporters in his office for an afternoon announcement.
“I have no plans to resign,” Brown said. “That is all I am going to say. . . . I have no plans at this time to resign.”
That Brown (D) had to address the hearsay about his political demise underscores the drama in the John A. Wilson Building nearly two weeks after two campaign aides to Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) pleaded guilty to federal charges in a separate investigation of the mayor’s 2010 campaign.
For more than a year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has been looking into whether Brown violated any laws when his 2008 reelection campaign diverted $239,000 to a now-defunct consulting firm owned by his brother, Che Brown. Around that time, Brown was badly in debt, resulting in four lawsuits from credit card companies seeking payment of more than $50,000 in unpaid bills. He has settled the suits.
Two years ago, The Washington Post reported that Brown had estimated the value of his home at $850,000 on a 2006 credit card application, even though the assessment on his property was $357,930 at the time.
A grand jury has been empaneled as part of the federal investigation, and people familiar with the probe told The Post that the inquiry is drawing to a close.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Brown stressed that he was not going to comment on the investigation but reiterated that he’s confident he violated no laws related to the 2008 campaign.
Still, Brown is showing signs of strain as he executes his responsibilities with the weight of the investigation.
About midday Tuesday, as Brown rushed toward the council chamber, WTOP reporter Mark Segraves attempted to question the chairman about the inquiry. According to WTOP, Brown “shoved his forearm into Segraves’ chest and pushed him up against the wall.”
A few hours later, Brown apologized to Segraves.
“Mark ran up on me in a room that council members and staff are only allowed into, and I didn’t know who that was,” Brown told reporters. “I told Mark I apologize if he felt shoved. That was not my intent at all.”
Brown kept a cooler head as he presided over a round of votes on issues ranging from an overhaul of taxi regulations to a bill to curb youth bullying.
“I think this budget shows this council is well prepared to be fiscally responsible while protecting the interests of the people who sent us here,” Brown said after the council approved the budget for fiscal year 2013.