A nonprofit program to prevent infant mortality enjoyed special treatment at Detroit city hall, and the mayor’s chief of staff abused her authority by twice ordering employees to delete emails, a watchdog reported Monday.
Detroit Inspector General Ellen Ha recommended discipline for Chief of Staff Alexis Wiley and two other employees for the email incident.
Ha investigated the city’s support of Make Your Date. She said Mayor Mike Duggan provided “preferential treatment” to the group, which operates out of Wayne State University and is led by a doctor with ties to Duggan.
Ha said the treatment didn’t “rise to the level of abuse of power” but was not “best practice or good governance.”
“The selection of MYD to partner with the city of Detroit as well as be the recipient of city resources was done in a manner that lacked fairness, openness and transparency,” the report reads.
The Detroit Free Press reported earlier this year that Make Your Date received $358,000 of Detroit’s share of federal grants for maternal and child health programs.
In response to Ha’s investigation, the mayor’s office emphasized a section of the report that said Duggan didn’t violate any policies, procedures or laws. He is expected to talk to reporters Tuesday.
As for Wiley, the inspector general said ordering email deletions was “more egregious” than the city favoring Make Your Date.
“The fact that they were ordered to be deleted alone casts a shadow over transparency,” Ha said.
Wiley released a statement saying she disagrees with the findings. The city said the email order “may have been an error in judgment.”
“There is absolutely no indication that any of the three officials believed that the emails contained damaging information — and the emails contained no such information,” said Eli Savit, a lawyer for the mayor, Wiley and two other city officials