Brenda Jones violated campaign finance laws with donations tied to city contractor, according to report

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones. - City of Detroit
City of Detroit
Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones violated campaign finance laws that are designed to prevent pay-to-play politics, according to a new report.

While running for re-election to city council in 2017, Jones accepted nearly $10,000 in campaign contributions from top officials at First Independent Bank, which has a contract to operate a loan program for the Detroit police and pension fund, The Intercept first reported.

Jones, who is running against U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib for the congressional seat, is a trustee of the pension fund.

Michigan makes it a crime for politicians on public pension boards to accept campaign contributions in excess of $350 from top leaders of contractors.

Jones accepted $5,500 in campaign donations from then-First Independent Bank Chairman and CEO Barry Clay, according to campaign finance records. She also took $4,000 in campaign contributions from First Independence Bank board member Douglas Diggs.

“The conduct certainly looks to me to be in violation of the relevant law,” Duke Law professor James Cox, who has studied ethics and pay-to-play issues, tells The Intercept. “It strikes me as pretty blatant.”

In the 2018 Democratic primary for the congressional seat, Tlaib defeated Jones by fewer than 1,000 votes. Prior to that contest, Jones won a special election to complete former Rep. John Conyers Jr.’s term, spending five weeks in Congress.

Tlaib, who has become a household name, raised a whopping $2.2 million during the current election cycle, according to campaign finance records.

The primary election is Aug. 4.

Jones could not be reached for comment.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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