A sweeping federal investigation of political corruption in the District has entered a new and fast-paced phase targeting suspected violators of city campaign finance laws, authorities said.
The guilty plea of former D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown to bribery charges Monday was the latest public development in a broader investigation that has now spanned two years and that prosecutors said will move quickly in the coming weeks.
Brown’s plea not only laid bare a $55,000 bribery scheme; it also detailed a connection to the alleged financier of a secret, $653,000 effort to back the mayoral campaign of Vincent C. Gray (D) in 2010. Brown said that he accepted an illegal donation from the same contributor, giving investigators new ammunition in a case that has dogged Gray since he took office.
People close to the case also confirmed for the first time that authorities are talking to at least one other D.C. Council member over campaign finance issues. Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large) on Tuesday acknowledged that he had recently met with federal prosecutors about his past campaigns, which had ties to the same people implicated in the Gray “shadow campaign” — expenditures on behalf of the candidate that went unreported to campaign finance authorities.