Detroit Mayor: Training, Not Discipline For Staff Who Deleted Emails

WWJ News
October 22, 2019 - 3:17 pm

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan won't discipline his chief of staff or two other staffers who were involved in deleting emails about a prenatal health program supported by the city.

Mayor Mike Duggan says chief of staff Alexis Wiley, a former TV reporter, instead will undergo public records training.

Duggan spoke to reporters Tuesday, a day after Detroit's Office of the Inspector General said the nonprofit Make Your Date program enjoyed special treatment from city hall. Ellen Ha said Wiley's order to delete emails was "egregious" and "contrary to open government."

The mayor said the order to delete the emails was a "mistake in judgment" by Wiley, but well-intended.

He said her goal was to protect junior staffers from Duggan critic Robert Carmack, and avoid seeing them "become part of the media circus."

"It was a very real threat, and I just felt terrible that I had put everybody in there under that stress," Duggan said. 

During Tuesday's news conference, Duggan also said there was no ulterior motive for directing special attention to Make My Date.

He brushed aside questions about his relationship with Make Your Date's director, Dr. Sonia Hassan, saying the IOG found it was not relevant to its investigation.​

"I think that a great majority of people in the city believe that I supported this program for one reason, and that was for babies to be born healthy," the mayor said. "And I'm going to leave that to the judgment of the public."

The OIG launched its probe after a Detroit Free Press investigation found that Make Your Date received $358,000 in city grants and benefited from a fundraising campaign.

Duggan, who all along has denied any wrongdoing, says there is no allegation that money was misspent. 

In an interview with WWJ Newsradio 950 on Monday, he said: "The most important conclusion of the OIG is that there was no violation of any policies, procedures or laws, and that there was no conflict of interest."

Inspector General Ellen Ha said investigators do not believe that the mayor ordered the emails deleted. 

Duggan stressed that while the deleting of the emails was a mistake, they contained "nothing problematic."