It’s not an easy time for Brown, whose future is the subject of rampant speculation as he awaits the outcome of a federal investigation into his finances and his 2008 campaign. Federal officials say the long-running investigation has been intensifying and is entering its final stages. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly.
But Brown remains upbeat. He says he is tired of worrying about rumors and thinks that he is only now reaching his potential as a leader.
“I’m not worried one bit,” Brown said of the federal investigation last week, as he allowed a Washington Post reporter to shadow him. “I am just 100 percent focused on doing what I am doing.”
In the past month, a federal judge has sentenced former council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) to prison for stealing from the city, and two former campaign aides to Mayor Vincent C. Gray have pleaded guilty in a widening probe into the mayor’s 2010 election campaign.
But there has been little public movement on a third federal investigation hanging over the city, the year-old probe into whether Brown improperly benefited from $239,000 in campaign funds steered to a consulting firm run by his brother.
Some of Brown’s colleagues speculate that he won’t survive the summer, but Brown is forging ahead with his agenda.
“People are saying: ‘You stole all this money. You got all this money. You’ve got to resign,’ ” said Brown, surrounded in his wood-paneled office by his growing collection of Muhammad Ali memorabilia. “I don’t entertain that stuff.”
As Brown tries to maintain his focus on city business, his colleagues say he has been anything but weak.
“So far, I have seen no evidence that he is under any stress above and beyond what comes with the job,” council member David A. Catania (I-At large) said.
Brown got off to a rocky start because of the uproar over his requesting a city-leased, fully-loaded sport-utility vehicle, which he has long-since returned. But in the meantime, he has grown into the job, exerting more control and racking up legislative victories.
On Tuesday, the council is expected to give unanimous final approval to a Brown-negotiated fiscal 2013 budget that includes no new taxes, $18 million for affordable housing, money for 20 new or refurbished parks and playgrounds, and money for changes intended to improve middle schools.
“He has shown extraordinary skill,” said council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1). “When he puts his mind to something, he gets it, even big things.”