LANSING (WXYZ) - A Detroit State Representative is asking Attorney General Bill Schuette to investigate a controversial severance package given to a top Wayne County appointee.
Last Tuesday, the Action News Investigators broke the story that Robert Ficano’s former economic development chief Turkia Mullin took a $200,000 severance payout from the taxpayers. In August, Mullin voluntarily quit to become the new CEO of Detroit Metro Airport, earning $250,000 a year.
Rep. John Olumba of Detroit made the request today, saying he felt bound to request a probe into Mullin’s severance on behalf of his constituents.
“We should be sure that while everyday citizens are sharing in the sacrifice of this seemingly relentless dogmatic economy, officials and other agents of the government are not misappropriating tax dollars,” he wrote.
Amidst growing scrutiny last week, Mullin vowed to return the money to the county. Still, questions about the payment have persisted, in part because of the county's bungled attempts to quell the controversy.
After claiming for days that Mullin's severance was promised to her in her contract, county officials later admitted she had no contract. The only document officials could produce promising Mullin severance was an undated letter bearing Ficano's signature.
Pressed Thursday by Channel 7's Heather Catallo, Ficano would not answer whether or not he wrote or signed the letter.
The controversy grew further when it was learned that Mullin's secretary at the county, who followed Mullin to the airport, also received a severance of more than $15,000. She too has promised to return the money.
In his letter, Olumba said he was unsure if any criminal activity had taken place with the payment, but said it appeared to have “dubious qualities.”
In addition to requesting an investigation into Mullin’s severance, Olumba asked the attorney general to probe the authenticity of the document promising her the payment, the “exorbitant compensation” of other county officials, and any “untoward activities” of the non-profit Wayne County Business Development Corporation, a fund that paid Mullin a second salary of $75,000.
The non-profit, as first reported by WXYZ-TV last October, is funded primarily by corporate membership dues—some as high as $25,000 per year. Some of the corporate members have contracts with Wayne County.
Mullin was paid $200,000 per year while head of economic development for Wayne County.
Late today, a spokesman for Attorney General Bill Schuette ""(the) standard review process started by Michigan’s county prosecutors yesterday on the Mullin issue is already in progress and that process will continue."
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