Newly elected Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley insinuated Nov. 16 that someone in the outgoing administration of former Mayor Karen Weaver left a bug in the mayor’s office, and the mayor’s office today gave East Village Magazine a press release on letterhead marked “Flint Police Department” stating a device had been found.
Neeley appeared on a WFLT 1420 AM radio show at 10 a.m. Nov. 16, where he stated that “in having the office swept, there was one electronic surveillance device left in the office.”
The mayor did not mention the device again during the airing and no one on the panel pressed the mayor for additional details. A video of the airing titled “Unity Show” was shared on Neeley’s private and campaign pages on Facebook.
On Nov. 18, EVM contacted the mayor’s office at 9 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. The person working reception wasn’t able to provide any information and passed EVM’s questions on to others in the mayor’s office.
At 10 a.m. today, the receptionist referred EVM to Assistant to the Mayor Tonya Burns, who explained that Communications Director Marjory Raymer was handling the issue. Burns declined to comment.
When Raymer returned EVM’s call at 4 p.m. today, she said she was not familiar with the issue, but would look into it and respond the same day.
At 5:24 p.m., Raymer texted an image of a press release that reads:
“The City of Flint Police Department can confirm that one electronic surveillance device was found in an administrative office located within the Mayor’s Office on the first floor of Flint City Hall. The incident remains under investigation and no additional information is being released.”
Raymer then texted to EVM, “That’s not being sent out btw. I just had them give me a copy to send to you.”
Earlier today, EVM spoke with a detective with the City of Flint who could not confirm that a device had been found. That detective asked if this was a video surveillance device.
In response, EVM explained that Neeley described it as an “electronic surveillance device” and that the video interview was available on the mayor’s Facebook page. The detective said that they were not friends on Facebook with the mayor and had no knowledge of the mayor’s statement.
EVM asked who was investigating. The detective said that they could not provide any information but they were taking notes and would prepare all available information to comply with a FOIA which they suggested would have to be submitted to Flint’s legal department.
EVM also reached out to the Detroit FBI office and was directed to email Special Agent Mara Schneider with our questions. Schneider explained that FBI policy is to neither confirm nor deny the existence of an FBI investigation.
Schneider further explained in a phone interview that the FBI typically does not direct other parties, especially other bodies of government, to withhold information about investigations.
A representative at the Michigan State Police Flint Post 35 said they could not confirm that a device was received and the officer on duty had never heard about the device and directed EVM to the City of Flint.
EVM sent FOIA requests to the FBI, State Police, and Flint Police to receive documents mentioning any possible types of surveillance equipment or other devices found and/or turned in to Flint police, State police, or the FBI that were originated in City Hall and/or the Flint office of the mayor in November of 2019.
EVM also has requested any documents pertaining to any searches at City Hall by the FBI, State Police, or Flint police conducted in November.
Link to Neeley’s video available here.
EVM Contributing Writer Melodee Mabbitt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.