A non-governmental source close to Mayor Byron W. Brown says that he is quietly considering exit strategies ahead of the expiration of his current term on January 1, 2018. At least one aide, who asked not to be named, says that Brown expects the racketeering lawsuit related to his dealings with NRP Development to evolve in such a way that prevents him from seeking reelection.
Both sources say that Brown is considering a resignation ahead of any possible criminal indictment, whereas to mitigate the national media attention that would befall the Chairman of New York’s Democratic Party in such a scenario. Keeping the story out of the national media would better posture Brown for a soft landing in the private sector, the aide posits.
It was unclear to the source whether such a resignation would be part of larger deal to end the racketeering lawsuit against the city, or to avoid forthcoming criminal charges. Developments are expected in the case in the next three to four weeks.
But those inside the Mayor’s inner circle argue that he should defiantly retain the office through the expiration his term, regardless of how the case evolves. That scenario would almost undoubtedly attract the ire of national media criticism — the kind that captivates the cable news cycle.
Operatives note that the Mayor’s campaign account has not taken a hit as a result of the allegations — his $645,000 in defense costs over the last three years have been paid for by the taxpayers of the City of Buffalo. Outraged taxpayers want the Common Council to cut off the funding, and they are demanding that the mayor reimburse the city from his formidable campaign account.
Brown is fielding phone calls in search of a private sector position. If one is forthcoming, a resignation could happen as soon as late January 2017. That would elevate Common Council President Darius Pridgen to serve simultaneously as Mayor and Council President until the next Mayor is elected and installed.
In another scenario, one source postulates, that Brown would resign in late January to launch a government contracting company, potentially in construction or security services. Before Brown ran for Common Council, he was an EEO compliance officer working for the city.
M&T Bank could provide Brown financial backing to launch such a venture. Such a high profile backing of a former Mayor could be a useful marketing tool that provides the bank cover from public criticism regarding the institution’s racist lending practices. Brown could be a useful prop and a high profile example of the bank’s support of minority owned start ups. That Brown could serve as an off the books lobbyist would be added value to the bank’s Chairman Robert Willmers.