ORLANDO, Fla. – Just over a month before she is to stand trial on federal corruption charges, former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown told the I-TEAM she is not going down without a fight.
News4Jax sat down with the congresswoman in Orlando on Thursday after she told her attorney she only wanted to talk to News4Jax. We insisted that no questions would be off-limits, including whether she was guilty of any of the charges against her.
"Absolutely not. My attorney said I shouldn’t say it, but it’s bull---- That’s what it is. Or BS. That’s a better word," Brown said. "Either way, I am looking forward to my day in court and clearing my name."
Brown said she was comfortable facing her accusers and putting her fate in the hands of a jury.
"Ain’t no question about that. On my tombstone, it will not be guilty. It will be that she stood up and presented her case in court and let the jury decide," Brown said.
Brown said she plans to testify at the trial.
"Absolutely! Nobody going to tell my story better than I can tell it. And the truth is the truth."
Brown said she spends three days a week preparing for the trial, and if the jury doesn't rule her way, she wouldn't be afraid to go to prison.
"No, I’m not. I’m ready. I want it over," Brown said. "I believe in the system. I’m going to be tried in a courthouse that I built and named."
After being indicted last year and losing a fight over redistricting that dramatically changed the congressional district that she held for more than two decades, Brown lost her bid for re-election.
Brown said she would not rule out a return to politics, but first she must focus on clearing her name.
"I’ve been to federal prisons all the time. They doing some good things," Brown said. "I don’t plan on being a part of no federal prison. They try to give me 28 prisons in my district (during last year's redistricting). Now they trying to put me in it. I’m not going."
During the interview, which continued for more than an hour, Brown talked about how she plans to defend herself and the one fact in the public record that is the smoking gun that will prove her innocence.
Brown said her ties to an unregistered Virginia charity, One Door for Education, whose founder plead guilty last year to federal charges, were just one of many organizations he worked with.
"I'm not on their corporation papers. I'm not on their board. I'm not going to any meetings. How you going to charge me," Brown said when asked about her connection to One Door for Education. "Let me tell you something, I help anybody. When you come to my office, I don’t care if you make a contribution – that is not it. I tell people all the time, when you go into politics, you need to go into it for the right reasons. It is like a calling. You don’t go into politics for money. You go in to help people. Like a minister has a calling, I have a calling. Service is a calling, and it’s been taken away from me."
The I-TEAM is reviewing the entire conversation and will present a full interview on Monday.