CODA for Corrine

The show trial and the tragedy


The slogan was “Corrine Delivers.”

We know it—we saw it on billboards, on T-shirts, and it was catchy.

Corrine Brown did deliver … in ways that weren’t immediately understood until the trial, which wrapped Thursday, with 18 counts of guilt coming down on Brown like bricks falling from the sky.

Boom—conspiracy. Boom—mail fraud. Boom—wire fraud. And so on.

18 times.

And through it all, Brown sat there, stoic—as if the Curb Your Enthusiasm end credits were rolling.

Her supplicants shed tears, of course. And on the elevator headed down from the courtroom, with a few of those closest to her glowering.

Then the exit outside, where cameras and news personalities waited to ambush a wobbly 70-year-old woman one last time before she was whisked into a waiting Mercedes Benz.

She got to the car—picture Moses parting the Red Sea if you’re Biblical—and escaped, for one last time, the media throng.

Corrine Delivered—fresh video, a ratings bump and opportunities for oh-so-many experts to opine about exactly how the trial went, an amazing feat, given that most of them sat in their trucks outside rather than go in and watch the proceedings.

After all, why watch the trial? That’s for your web guy.

And let’s speak of the trial—it’s reported so clean. But was it?

The feds hit their points, over and over again—x amount of money went into the One Door account or that of some other pass-through, where it was cashed out and then given to Brown or her daughter.

Shocking, right?


Here’s the FBI’s take on it: “She exploited the needs of children and deceived her constituents to advance her own personal and political agendas."

Let’s break that down a bit.

“Exploited the needs of children”? Yeah? Nope.

First of all, the “children” were not the concern hereagain, take it from me, who listened to every tedious piece of canned, identical donor testimony there was.

All of it. Trust me.

The common thread: The transactional relationship would be described (“Big donor guy wants to stroke Congresswoman to get help with big project, YET doesn’t want to be on a campaign finance report, SO he gives to the charity.”)

These are all business people. Every one of them. Their worlds are steeped in the principle of return on investment.

That investment had NOTHING to do with “children.” That investment had to do with getting Brown to push through whatever bullshit they were trying to sell.

So we’ve dispensed with half that mealy-mouthed fiction. Whither the constituents?

They loved her. If you don’t get Corrine Brown’s appeal, you’ve never been to one of her campaign events, never seen the work she has done for actual living constituents.

They weren’t screwed over. They weren’t the ones trying to hustle Brown into carrying the ball for them in Congressional committees.

A couple of weeks back, I wrote a column hitting the donor class. A fan of that piece: Brown’s own lawyer, who appreciated the deep dive into “transactional money.”

Of course, he didn’t hit that line very hard. He could have hit it on cross-examination. Or in the close. The donors got what they paid for: access. Could they guess it was a slush fund? Probably. No different to them than pass-through money that crosses over three PACs before turning into a mail piece for which no one wants to take credit.

It’s a grimy system. It is America. 18 counts later, maybe he would’ve played it differently.

The whole trial drove me to drink, though not for reasons anyone would guess without being there.

The energy in the room was utterly toxic: a dozen or so stragglers, showing up every day, the sort of people who are riding disability claims from the Clinton Administration and have never had to work again.

The room was flush with looky-loo typesspectators who were gleeful in hoping that Brown would get her just punishment, as if her getting 357 years and $4.8M in fines would benefit them in any way.

Spoiler: It won’t.

Corrine Brown is an old lady, running on muscle memory and old gimmicks that play well on TV. Her remaining years will be rife with both health and economic challenges.

The likely scenario: She gets jobbed out of a new trial, gets a prison stretch, and she lives out her days of declining health with prison doctorsor she just wears an ankle bracelet and doesn’t leave the house. She doesn’t go out and schmooze.

Of course, no one’s thinking of that when disgorging cornball memes that mean nothing beyond proving that white people are still willing to be racist when they think they can get away with it.

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I think Brown should spend her last years in prison. Does that make me a racist? Well Brown blamed her problems on racism. She has taken no responsibility for them. Yet I am the racist. So be it. Saturday, May 20, 2017|Report this