Detroit Mayor Duggan cleared in wrongdoing for Make Your Date controversy

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is announced Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has been cleared of all wrong-doing in the controversy involving a Wayne State University program run by a woman linked to the mayor.

Nessel called a 2 p.m. press conference on Wednesday to discuss the results of two criminal investigations, one of which was the Duggan investigation. 

According to the attorney general's office, 21 witnesses were interviewed, four search warrants were served, over 1 million documents were seized, and 1,500 documents from the Detroit Health Department, Southeast Michigan Health Association, and Wayne State University were reviewed. Additionally, the department reviewed documents from the Office of Inspector General.

After the investigation, Nessel's office has determined that no criminal charges will be filed.

"I would like to note that the absence of adequate evidence to charge individuals with crimes does not absolve the parties of their ethical obligation to meet the expectations of public trust inherent to their roles as employees and officials of the City of Detroit," said Nessel.  "I believe there is ample opportunity to improve upon the operations of City government, especially with regard to transparency and accountability to the residents of Detroit." 

Duggan was caught up in the controversy in the fall of 2019 when he was linked to the Make Your Date program by a report from the Detroit inspector general. The report stated that Duggan gave preferential treatment to the program and that certain emails were deleted by City employees. 

The report says the mayor picked the Make Your Date prenatal health program as the city's choice to fight infant mortality instead of going through the regular selection process it was supposed to go through.  

The investigation was started after a Detroit Free Press report that linked the mayor to the director of Make Your Date, Dr. Sonia Hassan. The relationship between Duggan and Make Your Date is not clear.

She led the program as Duggan asked the staff to raise money for Make Your Date.

In another potential bombshell, the report found that the mayor's chief of staff, Alexis Wiley, ordered certain Office of Development and Grants employees to delete hundreds of emails related to the Make Your Date program as news surfaced about the potential conflict of interest.   

The city also directed more than $300,000 in federal grants to the program.  

In the report, the OIG determined that, while Duggan did not violate city policies or laws, the treatment of the charity was "not best practice for good governance". 

Duggan has maintained that he and his office did nothing wrong.

"I don't see how it can be considered preferential treatment when you partner with America's leader in research and preterm birth, right here in the City of Detroit, and you produce those kinds of results. I certainly take issue with that finding," said Duggan in October 2019.

Duggan says the program receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants and has had much success in defending infant mortality.