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

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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.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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