Feds investigate Detroit City Council leadership vote

Prominent Detroiters accused of overhearing cash scheme to make Brenda Jones council president

By Mara MacDonald - Reporter, Roger Weber - Reporter

DETROIT - What do Detroit City Council members say about reports someone was trying to buy their votes?

Saunteel Jenkins: "I have not heard these rumors before."

Brenda Jones: "I know nothing about an investigation."

Gabe Leland: "This is a rumor mill town."

Scott Benson: "Nothing will come of this."

The Detroit News reports the feds are investigating a rumor that surfaced in a so-called casual conversation at Cutter's Bar and Grill. It reportedly involved three prominent Detroiters: Police Chief James Craig, political consultant Adolph Mongo and congressional candidate Horace Sheffield.

"The conversations centered on all of the rather extreme things people were doing to get folks to vote for them," said Sheffield.

Sheffield told Local 4 he had heard offers were being made to secure votes for council leadership positions.

None are accused of wrongdoing but supposedly they heard that someone who had been connected with 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.

"I don't even listen to rumors," said Jones. "I don't listen to rumors. I go directly to the source if I hear something."

Council member Mary Sheffield wouldn't talk. She's the daughter of Horace Sheffield, who has been told to appear before a grand jury on April 24.

"This whole thing is being taken out of context," Horace Sheffield told Local 4.

Chief Craig said he's not going to talk about any investigation.

"If it was a Detroit investigation, certainly I would discuss it," he said.

If someone was trying to buy a vote on a council with virtually no power, it's not clear how the risk would be worth the reward.

"We don't need anything that's a distraction from the city's business," said Jenkins.

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