The FBI is searching the homes of Detroit City Council members as federal officials expand their investigation into corruption at city hall.
FBI agents executed a search warrant Wednesday at the homes of council members Janeé Ayers and Scott Benson. Federal officials also searched the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center downtown, carrying out multiple boxes from the offices where City Council conducts its official business.
“The citizens of Detroit have a right to a city government that’s free of corruption,” said FBI Special Agent Tim Waters, who leads the Detroit field office. Federal officials say “multiple locations” were searched, including the Harper Woods home of Benson. No criminal charges have been made.
While federal officials did not disclose the reason behind the raids, the search warrants follow recent criminal charges brought against other members of Detroit City Council. Federal prosecutors say Council Member André Spivey and one of his staffers accepted $35,000 in bribes. Spivey is pleading not guilty to the felony conspiracy charge and remains on City Council.
Earlier this year, former council member Gabe Leland resigned after pleading guilty to state charges of misconduct in office. He previously faced federal bribery charges alleging he had requested $15,000 from a Detroit business owner. Those charges were dismissed as part of his plea agreement. Leland was sentenced to 30 months’ probation.
Mayor Mike Duggan’s office is not commenting on the matter. Detroit City Council is on recess until September, but some members are speaking out.
“Detroiters deserve elected officials who lead with their values: integrity, access and equity,” said Council Member Raquel Castañeda-López in a statement, calling for training requirements around ethical standards on Council. “So to my fellow Detroiters, do not lose hope. This November, we have the opportunity to elect new voices that can restore the public’s trust and integrity to city hall.”
Both Ayers and Benson are running for re-election this year.