Detroit City Council in meeting with mother over federal corruption investigation
After their colleague was convicted, another facing a bribery charge and an ongoing investigation of two council members and their aides, Detroit City Council on Tuesday was silent on the federal investigation during the ‘an expanded public inquiry at its first public meeting following the FBI raids. month.
Council members continue to meet virtually due to the pandemic and have not addressed the charges against Andre Spivey and the federal searches at the homes of Janeé Ayers and Scott Benson as well as the town hall. Spivey, Ayers and Benson all attended Tuesday’s meeting.
However, Demeeko Williams, founder of the nonprofit Hydrate Detroit, has requested the suspension of the three board members until the FBI completes its investigation.
“It is not appropriate, and neither is it possible to allow these members to serve while an investigation is suspended over their heads,” Williams said in a statement read during the section. of Tuesday’s public comment from the meeting. “This council allowed a member who was under federal investigation for two full years until he was charged with charges, forcing him to resign, forcing the community not to have adequate representation and setting a horrific example to allow rule breaking and other dishonorable actions “to challenge the moral integrity of the body.
On August 25, federal agents raided the homes of council members Ayers and Benson, as well as their chiefs of staff, Rick Silva and Carol Banks, as part of the public inquiry into corruption.
The FBI did not specify any action council members or their employees could have taken to get the office to target their homes. But none of the members have been charged.
Responding to Williams’ statement, David Whitaker, director of the council’s legislative policy division, said all three council members are entitled to serve their entire term unless they have been recognized. guilty or plead guilty to a criminal offense, citing the charter.
“This did not happen, and the conduct, public or otherwise, was not exposed in a way that made it a recoverable event,” Whitaker said at Tuesday’s board session. “As far as I know, you do not have enough evidence to make any allegations under the charter to demand that you be removed from office.”
Whitaker added that the investigation must run its course to determine anything more.
“If this was a situation where… it was affecting their ability to do the job, you know the board members either didn’t show up or they were distracted while not going about their business, that is. “Maybe that’s something they want to sort out. But it isn’t. The case here. The council functions as a body,” Whitaker told the Free Press.
Messages left with each of the council members were not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.
At the time of the raids, city councilor Raquel Castañeda-López said she was “horrified and heartbroken”.
The searches in Ayers and Benson came less than a month after federal prosecutors indicted city councilor Andre Spivey and an anonymous staff member with conspiracy to commit bribes. Spivey’s lawyer said in July that the city councilor has been cooperating with federal authorities for more than a year. Her plea hearing is set for September 28 before U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts, according to court records.
In addition, former city councilor Gabe Leland pleaded guilty in May to serious misconduct in the performance of his duties and resigned his seat on city council. The former city councilor accepted a campaign contribution of $ 7,500 in cash. In June, Leland was sentenced to 2.5 years probation for professional misconduct.
Despite the cloud over city council, the legislature held a largely routine meeting, approving virtual meetings until the end of the year, presenting a Spirit of Detroit award and discussing plans to hold meetings in response to the June floods.
Contact Dana Afana: [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @DanaAfana