Detroit businessman Thomas Hardiman Sr. plans to file a defamation lawsuit this week against Rev. Horace Sheffield III after Sheffield allegedly linked Hardiman to a federal investigation into a scheme to influence a Detroit City Council vote.
Last week, Sheffield told Local 4 he had heard offers were being made to secure votes for council leadership positions. He and others supposedly heard that someone who had been connected with former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was trying to steer a key City Council vote with cash. That 5-4 vote was the selection of Brenda Jones as president and George Cushingberry as council pro tem.
Hardiman says that "someone" Sheffield was talking about is him and the allegations are false.
"Mr. Hardiman has built a successful business in Detroit, partly from his reputation of honesty and integrity, and intends to protect both at all costs," said Jamaine Dickens, a principal of DMC Strategies and spokesman for Hardiman. "We are confident that the truth will be revealed in due time. However, Mr. Sheffield’s careless and irresponsible behavior must be addressed firmly and immediately."
Dickens says Sheffield told Detroit Police Chief James Craig that Hardiman was involved in the scheme. Chief Craig took the allegations to federal investigators.
"If it was a Detroit investigation, certainly I would discuss it," Craig told Local 4.
Hardiman plans to file his defamation suit on Thursday. He is seeking punitive damages for "harm done to his credibility, his good name, and his business as a result of the constant media reports spurred by Sheffield’s comments that falsely and illogically associate Hardiman with the rumors," said Dickens.
"While media agencies have sought to remind their audience that Hardiman was associated with Detroit’s most recent high-profile federal investigation, they have omitted two very important distinctions: Mr. Hardiman was the victim in that case, not an interested party; and that he was subpoenaed by the prosecution to testify that his business was forced to include a certain subcontractor in the execution of contracts competitively awarded to his company," Dickens said in his news release.
Sheffield summoned to appear before grand jury
Sheffield has been told to appear before a grand jury on April 24 for testimony in this alleged vote scheme. He's also facing a trial for a domestic abuse charge, which is scheduled to begin April 30.
Meanwhile, he plans to be a Democratic candidate in the 13th Congressional District, challenging Congressman John Conyers who will run for a 26th term.
Currently, Sheffield leads New Destiny Christian Fellowship Church and is the father of Detroit City Council member Mary Sheffield. His father, Horace Sheffield Jr., was a prominent labor activist with the United Automobile Workers (UAW).