DETROIT (FOX 2) - Detroit's office of inspector general has launched an investigation of Mayor Mike Duggan.
His connection to the non-profit "Make Your Date" is being looked into. An investigative report by the Detroit Free Press suggested the mayor used city resources to help his friend -- Wayne State University researcher Dr. Sonia Hassan to raise money for the charity that she runs.
According to the report - Duggan picked Hassan to lead the city's efforts to reduce premature births, directed his chief development officer to launch a large scale fundraising effort for Make Your Date and helped steer $358,000 in city grants to the organization which is affiliated with Wayne State University.
The mayor's office fired back at the Free Press report calling it "unsubstantiated." Chief of Staff Alexis Wiley released the following statement:
"An unbiased, thorough review of the facts will demonstrate that the central claims and unsubstantiated suggestions made by the Detroit Free Press are completely false. The city's efforts entirely supported Wayne State University and its Make Your Date program."
The statement added, "No city or private money was ever provided to the non-profit" and that Dr. Hassan volunteered her time for the program.
The Office of Inspector General investigates waste, abuse, fraud and corruption in city government, according to the city website. The office's jurisdiction includes all employees, contractors and those seeking to do business with the city of Detroit.
Wayne State University also released a statement on the investigation:
"We welcome this review following the questionable reporting from the Detroit Free Press. While Wayne State University is not the target of the article, we feel compelled to defend a program critical to the health of Detroit mothers and babies, and a dedicated, talented Wayne State faculty member who was maligned based on implications and innuendos.
"Over a period of several months Wayne State provided an extensive amount of information about Make Your Date to the Free Press, including a detailed financial accounting of the program administered by the university. Despite multiple explanations and evidence to the contrary, the paper still implied that Make Your Date was administered by a separate 501(c)(3). This is simply false.
"Even the Free Press admitted there was absolutely no wrongdoing in the program, though they failed to include in their reporting salient information that would have further demonstrated this, among which is that Dr. Hassan earned exactly zero dollars for her volunteer efforts on this important cause. They also declined our offer to provide interviews with women who have benefited from the program.
"Most importantly, what is clearly under-emphasized is the value of the Make Your Date program. Detroit has the highest preterm birth rate in the country. Because of the city's patient population and Wayne State's excellence in prenatal care and research the university was selected to host one of only two National Institutes of Health research branches outside of Bethesda, Maryland - the Perinatal Research Branch (PRB) of the National Institutes of Health. The Make Your Date program was launched based on research done at the PRB, in which Dr. Hassan played a prominent role, and together the programs advance the understanding of prenatal care while providing care to mothers most in need.
"Since its inception, Make Your Date has helped thousands of pregnant women in Detroit by connecting them to see a doctor or midwife, testing, treatment, counseling and other resources needed throughout pregnancy."