Flint Mayor Ordered Staffer to Divert Charitable Donations to Her Campaign Fund, Lawsuit Claims

Karen Weaver allegedly wanted lead cleanup money rerouted to “Karenabout Flint”

Mayor Karen Weaver at a congressional hearing in FebruaryBill Clark/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom/ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


In November, Flint residents elected a new mayor, Karen Weaver, who promised to help solve the city’s lead crisis and hold local authorities accountable. Now, she’s mired in a controversy of her own.

On Monday, former City Administrator Natasha Henderson filed a lawsuit in US District Court against Weaver and the city of Flint, claiming she was wrongfully fired after raising concerns that Weaver was steering donations for Flint families into a campaign fund. According to the complaint, Henderson was approached in February by a tearful city employee, Maxine Murray, who told Henderson “she feared going to jail.” The mayor, the suit claims, had instructed Murray and a volunteer to direct donations from Safe Water Safe Homes, a fund created to repair antiquated plumbing in Flint homes, to a campaign account called Karenabout Flint, and give them “step-by-step” instructions on how to make a donation.

As CNN notes, “Karenabout Flint” is not a state-registered PAC, though “Karen About Flint” was the mayor’s campaign slogan, Twitter handle, and campaign website. According to the lawsuit, Henderson, the city’s top unelected official, reported the matter to Flint’s chief legal council in February and requested an investigation. Three days later, she was terminated on the account that there was no room in the city budget to fund her position—though Henderson noted that her position was funded by the state.

Read the full complaint below.

 

 

Weaver denies the allegations. “It is the general policy of the City of Flint to not respond to allegations in civil lawsuits. However, in this instance, I want to personally state that legal counsel for the city will be responding to the allegations and outrageously false claims being asserted against the city and me by Ms. Henderson,” she said in a statement on Wednesday. “It saddens me that someone would attempt to taint me as Mayor of a city that is dealing with a major public health crisis, which has affected every man, woman and child in Flint.”

This article has been updated.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest