Former Rep. Corrine Brown (D., Fla.) blamed the federal corruption and conspiracy charges against her on redistricting and racism. In a Wednesday interview with Summer Knowles of WESH2 news, Brown claimed her reputation was ruined.
"They have just taken my name and destroyed it. My name is all I have," she said.
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Brown said she will plead not guilty to the charges centering around a charity called One Door Education. The charity was supposed to give scholarships to students, but investigators say it was used as a personal fund for Brown, her chief of staff, and the charity's president, according to WESH2 News.
The Virginia-based charity accepted over $800,000 in donations over four years, but "only two checks totaling $1,200 went toward charitable purposes, the Justice Department said in its indictment," according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Brown insists the charity was legitimate, saying, "Let's be clear. Anything that I solicited money for, it occurred."
The charity's president took a plea deal, but Brown's chief of staff Elias "Ronnie" Simmons plead guilty and also testified against Brown. This shocked Brown.
"He was like my son for over 20-something years," she told Knowles.
Brown insisted she is being charged because of redistricting.
"You changed my district completely. The next was this indictment. It's just unbelievable how they seem to make up the rules as they go," she said. "And so I am looking forward to my day in court."
By "they," Brown said she means the Justice Department.
Knowles asked why they would target her.
"I guess I'm a black woman with a mouth," Brown replied.
This isn't the first time Brown has blamed racism for her charges. When the 24 counts of fraud were initially brought down on her in July 2016, she created a fundraising website to fight the charges. On the site, a message dictates that the Obama administration's Justice Department was targeting her because of her race, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
"During my entire political career, I have fought racism, injustice and advocated for individuals who normally get left behind," the message reads. "It should come as no surprise that some took offense to my efforts to stand up for you."
She blamed the Justice Department for taking away her freedom and urged her supporters to donate money to help her overcome this issue.
"I am fighting the Department of Justice, which has unlimited resources. They have smeared my good name. They are trying to take my freedom. I am asking for your help to fight these false charges. On this website, you can make a donation to my legal defense fund. Any contribution would be greatly appreciated," the message concludes.
Brown's trial is set to begin April 24 in Jacksonville.