Court rules against Mayor Fouts in latest budget spending fight with Warren City Council

Warren City Council claims the mayor illegally spent more than $600,000 on ads promoting himself.

Mayor Jim Fouts

Warren City Council may file a formal complaint with Michigan’s attorney general over funds spent by Mayor Jim Fouts.

It’s the latest move in a battle over the city’s budget that has spilled into the courts.

The council and the mayor have been at odds over an amount exceeding $650,000, initially earmarked in the 2021 budget, intended for a city advertising campaign featuring Fouts himself.

Council members removed the appropriation.

But Fouts spent the money anyway, arguing Warren’s city charter only allows city council to approve or reject an entire budget — not just a piece of it. Council members decided to take the matter to Macomb County Circuit Court, which ruled the legislative body did have authority to amend a portion of Warren’s budget.

Fouts appealed the circuit court’s decision, but on Dec. 29, the state court of appeals agreed with the circuit court’s ruling.

“This was not a mistake but an intentional act designed to undermine the checks and balances in city government,” Council President Patrick Green said in a statement.

According to The Detroit News, Council Secretary Mindy Moore said the council intends to file formal complaints with Attorney General Dana Nessel and Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido, requesting enforcement against Fouts using the Uniform Budgeting and Accounting Act. The law allows legal action to be taken to recover funds spent illegally.

“These were not required expenditures for resident health, safety, or welfare. He was promoting himself in TV ads. He should reimburse taxpayers,” Moore said.

Fouts has previously said he would appeal the case to the Michigan Supreme Court if necessary.

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »


  • Quinn Klinefelter
    Quinn Klinefelter is a Senior News Editor at 101.9 WDET. In 1996, he was literally on top of the news when he interviewed then-Senator Bob Dole about his presidential campaign and stepped on his feet.