2:49pm PT by Michael O'Connell
'The Wire' Creator David Simon Compares Kwame Brown to Clay Davis
Corruption is a favored topic for David Simon. He spent over a decade covering crime and police for The Baltimore Sun, and in his second career as a TV writer, he's explored the subject with Homicide: Life on the Streets, The Wire and Treme.
So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that while he was listening to radio coverage of the recent criminal charges brought against former Washington, D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown, he decided to call in.
"I couldn't help it," Simon said on Thursday's Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU (via DCist). "I'm driving down the road, listening to this, and it has echoes of about ten different federal investigations that I either covered or dealt with as a reporter."
The investigation they're referencing is against the former chairman, who was recently forced to resign and, on Friday, plead guilty to a variety of charges brought up by U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen -- felony bank fraud and aiding and abetting illegal cash campaign expenditures among them.
Brown's guilt or innocence on the matters didn't occupy much of the conversation. Simon seemed most interested in the prosecutor's yearlong investigation only yielding issues of personal finance.
"Whenever I see the bank fraud charge leading the way for a federal investigation, what I know -- almost to a certainty -- is that if they're leading with that, they're coming up empty everywhere else," he said. "A lot of Americans commit bank fraud. And if you think that's a shocking statement, anybody who ever lied and gave a gift of cash to their child so their child could buy a first home... they're exposed the 30 years that the federal prosecutor wants."
If that sounds familiar, it's because it was a storyline from The Wire.
Simon's HBO series spent seasons following the bribes and shady deals brokered by Maryland State Senator Clay Davis (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) before finally showing a state's attorney prosecute him. He's acquitted and blackmailed with the only thing they have on him: mortgage fraud.
"We absolutely used it," Simon told Nnamdi. "We'd seen it done with Ed Norris." (The former Baltimore Police Commissioner spent six months in jail on similar charges.)
As for Davis, fans likely remember just what he thought of his indictment: