D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown has resigned after being charged with one count of felony bank fraud yesterday. Brown declined to comment on the charge or his resignation yesterday as the council prepared to pick up the pieces and elect a new interim chair.
WAMU 88.5 reporter Patrick Madden talks with WAMU Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey about the latest on the case. Here are some highlights:
On the mood at the Wilson Building as this was unfolding: "It was less than 24 hours since the chairman sort of gathered all the press together and said he was not resigning … and then … federal prosecutors filed this bank fraud charge," Madden says. "When that happened, the chairman, and all his staff gathered in his office, locked the door, and were in there for several hours. When he finally emerged … it was sort of an unruly scene.
"But it was chaotic also in the political sense of what this means for the city," Madden continued. "Brown was the second most powerful politician in D.C. and wielded incredible influence. Now he's gone, and there is a sort of vacuum of city leadership."
On how this charge relates to Brown's 2008 campaign: "This charge is not related. It has to do with a line on a loan application …" Madden says. "Now this is a plea agreement, which usually that means that there were other charges that he probably was facing … but this charge doesn't have anything to do with his public conduct."
Who's likely to take Brown's place: "Right now it's come down to either Phil Mendelson, or Vincent Orange, who actually ran against the council chairman for that seat and actually sort of kicked off all these investigations into brown's personal finances when he ran against," Madden says.
On how other council members appear to be coping with the new: "I think they're shell shocked. Yesterday … several members just looked distraught," Madden says. "On the other hand, I think there's a sense that at least this is finally over, that there's some resolution on this. I spoke with Council member Mendelson, who talked about, at least we can start to move on from this investigation, from this cloud that was hanging over the Wilson Building and try to start over."
How the mayor responded, and whether this is the end of the line for political casualties in the District: "The mayor released a statement following Brown's resignation, saying he was deeply saddened by all of this," Madden says. "But this other investigation has the potential to be here for awhile … and this has the potential to not only be about campaign finances but also about contracting .. so there is the sense that the uncertainty may be here for awhile as investigators continue to probe local politics.