Ficano's top fundraiser, IT chief jump ship from Wayne County positions

Controversial Fakhouri was subject of WXYZ reports

(DETROIT) WXYZ - Two high-level aides to Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano have resigned from their county positions, the 7 Action News Investigators have learned.

Controversial Assistant County CEO Nader Fakhouri resigned  March 31, citing health reasons, and David Edwards, the head of the county's information technology department, left last week for "personal reasons."

Edwards took over at the county's embattled information technology department late last year after Tahir Kazmi, who held the job earlier, went on medical leave.  Months later, he was charged with extorting an IT vendor, theft and obstruction of justice.  He resigned from the county the same day.

Fakhouri has been a controversial figure inside Wayne County for years, not widely seen until a series of reports by 7 Action News.  As we reported last November , he is known to perform political and fundraising work for Ficano's re-election campaign while on county time.

According to one source who works with Fakhouri, he spends his time "meeting and having lunch with people who write checks, picking up checks and attending to the needs (of) the people who write those checks. Nader sometimes meets with the executive staff and sometimes has other tasks, but his main job duty … is to deal with the day to day requirements that come with raising the money."

Fakhouri denied the allegation.

A whistleblower lawsuit filed last week, in which Fakhouri was a named defendant, alleged Ficano ran a political machine out of his county office.

As the 7 Action News Investigators reported in November, Fakhouri profited nicely from the county's decision to purchase a building he owned a significant stake in.

County officials who approved the deal said they were not aware that Fakhourki benefited.

And in January, 7 Action News exposed e-mails that showed Fakhouri expected county contractors to kick in big campaign contributions to his boss, Robert Ficano. 

In an email he sent to another appointee in 2009, he wrote about "preliminary numbers" for what he thinks county vendors should give to Ficano's campaign fund, franing from $5,000 to $25,000.

It's not clear if all those vendors were solicited, but several of them later gave to Ficano's PAC.  7 Action News spoke with one who said he felt obligated to. That vendor did not want his name used for fear of retribution, but said:

"It's disgusting that they're going after vendors like that…I just don't think it's proper."

Calls to Fakhouri were not immediately returned.

If you have a tip for the 7 Action News Investigative Team, contact us at tips@wxyz.com or at (248) 827-9466.

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