Members of Detroit caucus nix 'vote of no confidence' in Rep. Gay-Dagnogo

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

A majority of the members of the state Legislature's Detroit Caucus failed to support a vote of no confidence Monday in the group's chairwoman, Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo. 

Rep. Leslie Love, D-Detroit, called for the vote in a meeting that Gay-Dagnogo, D-Detroit, called invalid because it was not called by the chairwoman.

Love alleges that Gay-Dagnogo had misrepresented the caucus, forged their signatures on a resolution, was verbally abusive and attempted to file a false report of harassment against a member. 

Six of the caucus' 13 members participated in the Monday meeting but the vote of no confidence was supported by only two: Love and Rep. Cynthia Johnson, D-Detroit.

"We can’t go forward but it has now been made public," Johnson said. "Everyone now has been put on notice you are going to be watched, even by your colleagues.”

Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo

Gay-Dagnogo pushed back on Love’s accusations and claimed they were a “political assassination” as she runs for Detroit mayor.

“She’s never had any confidence in my leadership so I’ve learned to deal with it, but this is just a witch hunt, a disgruntled decision from a colleague,” Gay-Dagnogo said. 

One of the heftiest allegations laid against Gay-Dagnogo is that she forged the signatures of some caucus members February in a document that recognized the work of a Detroit musician. 

She apologized for the mistake in a letter to the caucus last week and blamed the issue on a former staffer. 

On Monday, Gay-Dagnogo said it's not unusual for a staff member to contact staff working for other lawmakers to get signatures, but that apparently was not done properly for the Feb. 23 resolution. 

“It’s more of an inclusive act of not leaving someone off,” the representative said of including the names of Love and other caucus members. “It’s something that’s been done before.”

The mistake still makes Johnson uncomfortable, however. Johnson was among those whose signatures were forged.

"I thought, wow, how many other documents has she signed in our name?” Johnson said. 

Gay-Dagnogo rejected claims of verbal assault, a failure to respond to member requests and immature, insensitive behavior. She also claimed to have had regular communication with the Detroit caucus during the historic vote on auto insurance reform last year, but Love said that also was false.

“I don’t make decisions in a vacuum,” Gay-Dagnogo said. “I always reach out to caucus members and get their input.”

Love also accused Gay-Dagnogo of making "back door" deals with former Gov. Rick Snyder's administration after the Michigan State Police director called Colin Kaepernick and his teammates "ingrates who hate America."

Gay-Dagnogo said she worked with Snyder's staff and African American members of the Michigan State Police to bring about changes in training, education and recruitment. Col. Kriste Etue's removal wouldn't have brought about cultural change in the department, Gay-Dagnogo said, because she would only have been replaced by someone else of the administration's choosing. 

Gay-Dagnogo repeatedly alleged Love was working for someone, perhaps Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, but Love denied those allegations. 

“I’m not running for anything,” Love said. “I’m not working for anyone.”