Council members say ex-Fouts aide used aliases in Zoom meetings
Two Warren City Council members say an appointee of Mayor James Fouts who recently quit his city job called into virtual meetings under various aliases, and they want the Michigan Attorney General's Office to investigate.
Jamie Roe, a $44,000-a-year clerical technician, abruptly resigned last week after council members questioned whether his employment — never approved by them — violated a policy barring political consultants from being placed on the municipal payroll.
On Thursday, council president Patrick Green and secretary Mindy Moore said in a press release that they had forwarded information to the Attorney General’s Office that shows Roe, a Macomb Township resident, posed as a Warren resident under various names during at least 12 Zoom meetings while he was on the payroll.
The pair said they were acting on a citizen’s tip that Roe had voiced support for Fouts and his objections against the council during meetings, including twice this month, by misrepresenting himself.
“It’s still to be determined if this involves criminal activity,” said Green. “It certainly is unethical and we need to get to the bottom of what else he may have been up to while being paid by the city’s taxpayers.”
“We have referred this matter to the Michigan Attorney General to conduct an independent investigation,” Moore said.
In a Facebook post, Roe didn't deny using aliases, saying he felt compelled to do so after seeing "attacks" from council members on Fouts and other city employees.
“The priorities of this city council are unbelievable …The reason I didn’t use my real name is because I watched this council target other city employees like Ethan Vinson and (administrator) Amanda Mika, who spoke out against the actions of city council, not to mention their endless attacks on the Mayor," Roe wrote.
He said council's attitude led him to quit his city job, a departure announced March 18 by Fouts.
"I resigned my position with the city of Warren because I'm sick of dealing with this accidental city council which has brought nothing but dysfunction and enormous legal bills for the taxpayers," Roe wrote. "Enough. Get your priorities straight."
In the post, Roe also said he was "reserving my right to sue the members of this council individually, particularly Pat Green and Melinda Moore, to defend my good name."
Moore said Roe, a Republican political consultant, was “a phantom, a ghost employee” who didn’t show up on the city employee directory and didn't have a city phone number or email address.
On March 11, Roe sent out a press release about his political consulting company, “Team Roe,” leading council members to question whether he was conducting its business on city time.
“No one except the mayor knew who he was or what he was doing,” Moore said, adding that over the past year, Roe received full city benefits, including a retirement account.
Fouts defended Roe and criticized council in a statement Thursday.
“Their release has misinformation if not blatant outright lies designed to destroy Jamie and anyone who would dare to speak out against this council,” Fouts said.
Fout said the council had targeted the city’s attorney, Ethan Vinson, and hired a separate law firm to represent itself. Fout said the council also cut his office staff by 20%, including deleting his executive office administrator from the budget.
“…This is hampering my ability to run the third largest city in Michigan because of the chilling effect it has on free speech.”
Moore said documentation from Zoom shows Roe signed in to council meetings using his email of firstname.lastname@example.org eight times from September 2020 through March 2021. In each case, the voice of the speaker, using different names, “sounds exactly like the voice of Mr. Roe and repeats the same political messages,” Moore said.
“Council members are deeply concerned that Mr. Roe was put on the city payroll to provide political consulting services to the mayor, which would violate the law,” said Green. “Roe has the right to speak out, and he has. But the mayor does not have a right to use tax dollars to pay a political consultant that is working for his own political interests.
“The mayor’s deception and dishonesty by deploying a city employee to use fake identities to further his political agenda is appalling.”
Moore said she will be seeking additional documentation from the city administration regarding Roe, including his use of a city keycard.