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Michael Bloomberg's Michigan presidential campaign defended Wednesday its hiring of Wayne County Executive Warren Evans' wife as a paid volunteer before her husband endorsed the former New York City mayor's quest for the Democratic nomination.

Renata Seals-Evans, who owns a business along the Livernois corridor on the city's northwest side, met with the campaign in late December and then was hired not long after, Bloomberg officials said in a Wednesday statement.

Bloomberg, a Republican turned Democrat, was introduced at his Eastern Market rally by Warren Evans on Feb. 4, but not officially endorsed. The endorsement came nine days later in a formal announcement.

Seals-Evans' hiring wasn't mentioned in the release accompanying the Wayne County executive's endorsement. The controversy was first reported by WXYZ-TV.

"We are proud to have nearly 100 staff on our Michigan team, including talented local leaders like Renata," said Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton. "Any implication that we hired Renata for any reason other than her skill and expertise is complete fiction and an insult to the hard work and dedication she shows every day engaging with voters on behalf of our campaign.”

Seals-Evans could not be reached for comment. Bloomberg is scheduled to participate in his first Democratic presidential debate Wednesday night in Las Vegas.

Bloomberg paid his first campaign visit to Detroit on Dec. 21, when he opened his first office in the Eastern Market area of the city. His trip included a visit before the office opening to the Livernois Avenue of Fashion.

"Warren Evans supports Mike Bloomberg because Mike is the only Democratic candidate who has expressly acknowledged the generational wealth gap for communities of color and has a bold plan to close that gap and lift up all Americans." Evans spokesman Jim Martinez said.

Evans' endorsement is key because Bloomberg has been trying to weaken the African-American support in Michigan for former Vice President Joe Biden.

Controversy has enveloped Seals-Evans before. In May 2017, she resigned from her job with the county treasurer’s office following a media report questioning her hiring.

In a letter at the time, Seals-Evans said she chose to resign as director of community outreach after analyzing the effect her employment had on the county because of her marriage.

“The mere appearance of being unethical is not acceptable to me and my standard of living ...” Seals-Evans wrote in a resignation letter to County Treasurer Eric Sabree. “Allow this letter to serve as my commitment to the transparency and to the loyalty that I have for Wayne County and its residents."

lfleming@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2620

Twitter:@leonardnfleming

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