Friday, July 12, 2019

AG launches probe after city of Detroit employees were ordered to delete emails

Posted By on Fri, Jul 12, 2019 at 12:05 PM

click to enlarge Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. - CITY OF DETROIT, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE
  • City of Detroit, Attorney General's office
  • Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office is investigating Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration after city employees were ordered to delete emails related to the Make Your Date program.

Intentionally destroying public records is a crime punishable by up to two years in prison.

“The attorney general directed our criminal division to reopen the file,” spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney told The Detroit Free Press, which first broke the story Friday.



“She was adamant that we take a very active role in this.”

The emails were deleted after the Free Press requested records related to the prenatal care program. It’s a violation of the Michigan Freedom of Information Act to delete requested records.

The Detroit inspector general is also investigating.

Make Your Date made headlines after it was discovered Duggan ordered a fundraising campaign for the program, whose director was seen with Duggan at her suburban home last year in an edited surveillance video taken by a private investigator.

Shortly after, Duggan’s wife filed for a divorce.

When asked to comment about the deleted emails, Duggan’s office deflected criticism and appeared to suggest Duggan was not involved in ordering the emails to be deleted.

"In early May, Mayor Duggan and Chief Financial Officer Dave Massaron learned about the possibility that some emails of staff of the Office of Chief Financial Officer related to Make Your Date may have been deleted,” Detroit’s top attorney, Lawrence Garcia, said. "CFO Massaron promptly took the lead in the effort to recover the emails. To the best of our knowledge, the deleted emails were successfully retrieved."  

But when asked directly whether Duggan was not involved, the mayor's office declined to comment.

Duggan’s office refused to answer other specific questions, saying the Inspector General’s Office has asked the mayor and city officials to keep quiet — a strange request for an "independent" investigator.

"The Inspector General has expressed a desire to complete the investigation with minimal comment from anyone within the scope of the investigation," Garcia said in a statement. "It is our intention to release the contents of all emails to the public as soon as the Inspector General permits. In the meantime, we will continue to cooperate fully with the Inspector General’s investigation."

Questions have been raised about IG Ellen Ha’s ability to be impartial since she worked in the city’s law department under Duggan.

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