I guess pictures really are worth a thousand words. And the photos released Monday of former D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown (D) taking wads of cash from undercover FBI agents tell a sordid tale of not only greed and corruption, but of entitlement and selfishness. Indeed, each part of the story — Brown likely faces up to three years and one month in prison for his transgressions — is deeply disappointing.
But it’s not just about the two huge wads of cash that’s disappointing for me. Or the travel mug filled to the brim with a bribe. It’s the fact that, like many people, I thought deep down that Brown was a well-meaning public servant with a few personal issues that eventually he would grow out of. Like many in this town, I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. He presents as a nice enough guy and is clearly likable. Last year, I ran into him once at the Wilson Building soon after I wrote a less-than-glowing column about him. Even though we’d talked many times by phone and otherwise, when I said my name to him in person, his handshake weakened and the look on his face changed. Did he have something to hide, then? I don’t know. But he certainly seemed pretty guarded for a guy that claimed to be above board.
U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. has been judiciously hammering city politicians at an efficient clip, but one detail of The Post’s Mike DeBonis’s story that stands out involves a different character who is, as of now, unknown. “According to court documents, the bribery scheme dates to conversations that began with an unnamed ‘Person A’ prior to July,” DeBonis wrote. Looks like there are other chapters to this long-running political corruption saga.
Maybe I should have known. Months back, during the campaign for the November 2012 election for an at large seat on the D.C. council, one of the candidates told me the following: “I know Michael Brown, our families know each other. I like Michael Brown, but there’s no way I would do business with him.”
I can’t imagine anyone else will in the near future, either.