Was the fix in? Top Ficano appointee wrote essay for Mullin days before she was asked to

DETROIT (WXYZ) -  

A top appointee to Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano wrote an essay for Turka Mullin that helped her land a job as Detroit Metro Airport's next CEO,  7 Action News has learned.

Mullin asked a high-level Ficano communications appointee, to write an essay stressing why she would be the perfect candidate for Metro Airport's next CEO.  Days later, she relied heavily on the appointee's words when she was asked to write what was supposed to be an impromptu "blue book" essay, similar to those written in college courses.

The essay was intended to be a surprise to each candidate, sources confirm, asking applicants to "describe in writing what (Detroit Metro) and (Willow Run Airport) would look like, and how they would operate, after five years under your leadership as CEO of the Wayne County Airport Authority."

See Mullin's complete essay below.

Each candidate had only thirty minutes to write his or her answer. Board members said Mullin's was superb, styled as a press release from the future in 2016.  In it, Mullin wrote that the airport was just named tops in the world.  Survey takers praised its "welcoming environment and user friendliness," she wrote.

"Airport executives and personnel were particularly impressed with the airport's recent domination of the Asian and South American markets," Mullin wrote. 

And airport Authority board members loved her essay.

"She did an excellent job in the essay in her interview, so I was encouraged that she was the right person for that job," said WCAA member Bernard Parker.

The essay runs 3 pages and about 450 words. And 7 Action News has learned she didn't write it—at least not the original version.  

No, it was written by Lynn Ingram, a high-level Ficano communications appointee in the days leading up to Mullin's interview.  He wrote it, we've learned, when Mullin asked him for help in preparing for her upcoming interview, when candidates weren't supposed to know there would be an essay question .

A source who saw what Mullin wrote describes her essay as strikingly similar to the version written by the Ficano appointee. That an essay was written in advance for Mullin is evidence of either an incredible coincidence, say airport authority board members, or that Mullin got tipped off about the question in advance. 

Today's revelation adds to the speculation by many, like union activist Robert Davis, that Mullin's hiring at Detroit Metro Airport was orchestrated from the beginning. Davis has argued that her hiring was illegal.

"I hope that is not the case, but if it is it really taints the whole process of her being appointee," said Parker.

"I would not have voted for her if I had known this in advance."

Parker  and others say it's either an incredible coincidence, or Mullin got tipped off about the question in advance.  After all, he says, the essay was supposed to be a surprise.

"I think that anyone who went for an interview, it's very difficult to know what someone's going to ask," said Parker.

In October, the FBI subpoenaed the airport authority for all records related to Mullin's hiring.

Ingram declined to be interviewed for this report, but released a statement saying Mullin relied on him because of his experience as a journalist. 

"She asked if I'd help her put her thoughts into words. She provided the ideas and concepts, and I helped her convey them," Ingram said.

Ingram left the county on Friday voluntarily.

Sam Nouhan, an authority board member and one of Mullin's biggest defenders before her firing last October, wrote the question that was given to candidates.  We found him standing outside of county headquarters this afternoon.

"Did you give Ms. Mullin any heads up about that question," asked 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones.

"I know you're interested in all of these issues, but I'm really not at liberty to make any comments due to pending litigation and other legal matters," Nouhan said. 

Nouhan's name emerged in an FBI subpoena  back in February demanding all records related to any work he's performed with Wayne County.  Last month, we asked County Executive Robert Ficano about whether Mullin received any advanced notice about the question.  They didn't answer our specific questions, but released another statement today saying the County Executive doesn't stand in the way of anyone pursuing an opportunity outside of the county. 

We reached out to Mullin's attorney for comment today, but he declined to say anything.  

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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