Detroit FBI agents were executing search warrants at the homes of Detroit City Council members Janeé Ayers and Scott Benson and at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center on Wednesday morning, the latest escalation of a federal corruption investigation that has already led to charges against Councilman André Spivey.
The exact focus of the investigation and what led investigators to mount the raids Wednesday were unclear. No criminal charges have been filed and search warrant documents remained sealed in court.
The raids Wednesday represent the largest federal investigation into City Hall corruption in the eight years since former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted of racketeering conspiracy charges and sentenced to 28 years in federal prison. President Donald Trump commuted the sentence in January.
The searches come three weeks after Spivey was arraigned in federal court on one count of conspiracy to commit bribery over claims he accepted more than $35,000 to be "influenced and rewarded" for votes.
Since 2008, more than 100 politicians, union bosses, bureaucrats and police officers have been charged with corruption in Michigan's eastern district, including more than a dozen politicians and contractors in Macomb County.
"Clearly, there is a culture of corruption that doesnt stop at the city line or the county line," said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan's Ross Business School.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is not considering a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state workers now that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration granted the first full authorization Monday of a coronavirus vaccine.
"There are no plans to do any broad mandates," she said Monday, referring to her decision not mandate vaccines or require masks at Michigan schools.
"Those who were uneasy because of the early use authorization status of the vaccine maybe now will have a greater confidence in the fact that these vaccines are safe and they work."
t's the latest in a series of statements Whitmer or members of her administration have made to rebuff the idea of new pandemic regulations in Michigan. While the governor and state health department leaders have argued mask mandates and capacity restrictions saved lives in the first months of the pandemic, since January the Whitmer administration has promoted a message that revolves around personal responsibility.
Whitmer's goal was to get at least one dose of coronavirus shots into the arms of 70% of the state's 16 and older population, but the state has yet to reach that benchmark despite incentives that included a statewide lottery-style raffle in July.
As of Monday, the state's vaccination rate stood at 65.2% below the national rate of vaccine uptake, which is 73%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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