Wayne County Commissioner Jewel Ware responds to 7 Action News investigation

DETROIT (WXYZ) - "I can tell you to stand tall."

That's Wayne County Commissioner Jewel Ware, defending her this morning after 7 Action News investigators exposed what might be a conflict of interest because of her husband's connection to Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.

Her husband, Jesse Longbay, is a political council.

"I checked with the Wayne County Commission Council, our council here and I was told that there was no conflict," Ware says.

At one time Ware was a consistent critic of Ficano and in 2010, Ficano donated at least $15,000 towards her challenger's campaign, hoping to unseat her.

But county insiders say that Ware has been strangely quiet about the Severance Scandal and the federal probe that surrounds Ficano. At one commission meeting, Ware even thanked Ficano for coming forward saying mistakes have been made and would be corrected.

They suspect that Ware has not been critical of Ficano because of the work her husband's company, J. & J. Associates, did last year for Ficano's campaign and the $21,000 it received for it.

"I was told there was no conflict, nor did I have to disclose J. & J. and Associate because that was not county money received," Ware said.

Brendan Dunleavy was the Wayne County Auditor's general for years. In our original report he said that hiring a commissioner's spouse creates a clear conflict of interest and puts their objectivity in question.

"It sure gives them the appearance that Ficano bought her silence through her husband," Dunleavy said.

On Thursday Jewel Ware said this about Dunleavy: "What channel 7 didn't disclose on television last Friday is they've taken a young man that had worked here in the past and that left. I would consider himself as a disgruntle employee, not an expert to conflict."

Dunleavy contract wasn't renewed by the county in 2004 and he sued over it and settled for $350,000.

We contacted him about Ware's comments and he told us, "I'm anything, but a disgruntled employee. I'm just an educated taxpayer. I couldn't be happier to be out of Wayne County."

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