Flint Mayor Karen Weaver faces a wrongful termination lawsuit from her former city administrator, who blew a whistle on the mayor’s alleged scheme to redirect money for a charity to fund her campaign, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The lawsuit names the City of Flint and Weaver as defendants.
Natasha Henderson previously held the highest non-elected office in the city. She claims in the lawsuit, filed on Monday in U.S. District Court, that Weaver fired her because she exposed the mayor’s misconduct. Henderson said a city employee told her on Feb. 9 that Weaver directed employee and volunteers to redirect charity donations for low-income families in Flint to Weaver’s campaign.
According to the Free Press, the lawsuit states that the employee was “specifically directed to tell donors and potential donors step-by-step how to donate to the Karen about Flint fund through its website, rather than instruct them in the steps to donate to the charity Safe Water/Safe Homes fund through the City of Flint website.”
Henderson said she contacted the city’s attorney to launch an investigation and find out how to protect the employee from retaliation. She said the attorney promised to “take prompt action,” but failed to follow up.
Katherine Smith Kennedy, Henderson’s lawyer, told the Free Press that her client took the appropriate action: “She reported the matter to the city attorney. And for doing the right thing, she was punished. She was fired.”
The lawsuit says Weaver fired Henderson three days after she reported the alleged misconduct. According to Henderson, Weaver terminated her because the state could no longer afford her salary. Henderson signed a five-year contract in 2014 with Flint—not the state of Michigan. Her annual salary was $140,000.
The lawsuit states that the Flint City Council voted 9-0 to approve Henderson’s termination, but she’s covered under the Michigan Whistleblower’s Protection Act.
Mayor Weaver sent an email response on Monday, via the Free Press: “It is the policy of the City of Flint to not respond to allegations made in civil litigation matters.”
She added that Flint’s attorney would respond to the lawsuit.