DETROIT – Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan addressed a report from the Office of Inspector General that accuses his chief of staff of ordering employees to delete emails related to an investigation into the city's support of a nonprofit organization.
The report found that Chief of Staff Alexis Wiley, the chief development officer and the deputy chief development officer abused their power in ordering to have the emails deleted.
The report said Duggan didn't abuse his power, but he claims he put his employees in a bad spot because of the situation with local businessman Robert Carmack, who paid for an electronic billboard to embarrass the mayor.
Earlier this year, Carmack played video from a private investigator that showed Duggan visiting Dr. Sonia Hassan at her house in Oakland County.
The OIC investigation involved Hassan's nonprofit organization, Make Your Date, and the city's support of the organization. Officials were examining whether the city's support for the nonprofit was in good faith or driven by Duggan's apparent connection to Hassan.
Duggan said Wiley was trying to protect his staff by ordering the emails to be deleted.
"I have directed that Ms. Wiley, Mr. (Chief Development Officer Ryan) Friedrichs and Ms. (Deputy Chief Development Officer Sirene) Abou-Chakra undergo training that Mr. Garcia will be running, relative to document management, FOIA law, document retention law to make sure that they are fully versed in these programs," Duggan said. "They made a mistake in judgment. There's no question about that in what they did. I believe this is the appropriate action to be taken."
Duggan said there was no important information in the emails. He said his staff tried to release the emails in advance of the OIG report, but the OIG asked them not to do so.
He said the staff members didn't delete anything in their own emails. He said it was a bad judgment call, but it looked worse than it actually is.
The next question will be what state officials have to say about the situation. The attorney general's office is looking into the accusations to see if further action should be taken.
Here are the full comments from Duggan: