D.C. City Councilman Michael A. Brown (I-At Large) was defeated Nov. 6 by lawyer David Gross. The son of the late Ron Brown, who served as commerce secretary under President Bill Clinton, was seen as a rising star in D.C. politics until questions arose about his personal finances and the disappearance of $115,000 from his campaign. Though he was cleared of any wrong doing, the controversy did not sit well with voters.
AFRO: What’s next?
MB: Well I’m under enormous pressure to run in the upcoming special election for the vacant at-large seat on the council. People from all over the District are sending me tweets, messages on Facebook and emails about how they are disappointed in the election results and encouraging me to run.
AFRO: What makes you think you have a chance?
MB: One, there was lots of voter confusion with the other Michael Brown running for [shadow] senator. You won’t believe the number of tweets I received and people at the polls who told me that they were confused and believed that when they voted for Michael [D.] Brown, Democrat, it was me.
AFRO: You were running in one category as an Independent, he in another as a Democrat.
MB: Voters don’t necessarily pay attention to that stuff. They circled Michael Brown. They wanted me. Just look at the numbers. The election results suggest that the other Michael Brown got more votes in Wards 4, 5, 7 and 8 than the two other Democratic citywide candidates, Phil Mendelson and Vincent Orange…He almost got more votes than Obama. My supporters believe his votes were mine.
AFRO: Were you surprised?
MB: In politics, you can’t be surprised either way because you never know how the electorate is going to vote. The mainstream press played a big role in my defeat…Three months ago, when the U.S. attorney said I had nothing to do with missing funds from my campaign, it was not reported in the press. This in my opinion, this was a big deal…It denied the voters the truth. The lack of a fair shake coupled with the name confusion is what hurt me at the polls.
AFRO: What did you hear from your constituents?
MB: Clearly, with all the ethical issues the council had over the past few years, I felt like I was the beneficiary of the anger of the electorate. That’s politics. I had no ethical or legal issues of my own. All my stuff was personal. I was a good steward of the public trust.
AFRO: Do you think there are likely to be more investigations of council members?
MB: There are still some investigations that are looming. I believe the council’s recent ethics reform bill will help to repair the damage and image with the voters. I was never under investigation. I was brought into the office of the U.S. Attorney about three months ago. I was informed that I had nothing to do with theft, something that I knew from the beginning.
AFRO: Do you support term limits for the council?
MB: No, the ultimate term limit is the elections.
AFRO: What do you think of President Obama indicating support for statehood for Puerto Rico?
MB: I was very disappointed in the Obama administration’s lack of support…Unlike President Clinton, Obama refused to put the D.C. license plates with “taxation without representation” on his official vehicle…I hope…things will be different this term.
AFRO: What are your plans if you are re-elected in the special election?
MB: My father used to say…you can still help your city and country without being an elected official. I plan on being [a] voice for the voiceless.