Jacksonville City Council member asking for U.S. DOJ to investigate mayor's office

Councilman wants DOJ investigation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax's Lorena Inclan is working to get reaction from Mayor Lenny Curry about Councilman Garrett Dennis' call for an investigation into his administration. She will have a live report on CBS47 Action News Jax at 5.

A Jacksonville City Council member is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate allegations of fraud involving high-ranking members of the mayor's staff.

In a letter written to the Department of Justice, Councilman Garrett Dennis said an investigation is "imperative."

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Dennis, a longstanding and vocal critic of Mayor Lenny Curry, asked for an investigation into possible fraud involving the mayor's administration.

In the letter, dated Aug. 14 and sent to U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez, Dennis expressed "serious concerns regarding allegations of procurement fraud by high ranking individuals in the office of Mayor Lenny Curry."

It went on to say, "I request that the Department of Justice investigate whether any crimes have been committed."

Action News Jax reported last week on a 2018 memo by Joe Peppers, the CEO of the Kids Hope Alliance, who said he felt pressured by Curry staffers when it came to the awarding of grant money to nonprofits.

KHA is a city agency that carries out city-supported youth programs such as after school programs and early learning.

One day later, we broke the news that Peppers was placed on paid leave because of an inspector general investigation into alleged misconduct.

The mayor's office has denied doing anything wrong. A city of Jacksonville spokesperson sent the following statement to Action News Jax:

"As usual, this Councilmember is putting his quest for headlines before the facts. All KHA grant recipients, including those who received money from the Stop the Violence grants, were in 100 percent compliance with the laws and regulations that guide the procurement and contracting process. Applications, scoring and awards were all done in a public and transparent process. The records related to every dollar are available for anyone to review and, again, demonstrate complete adherence to the law. Any suggestion otherwise is false and is clearly so because of the public records."

Dennis released the following statement after Action News Jax reported on his letter to the DOJ:

"Last week, I drafted a letter to the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida to request an investigation into matters recently reported by multiple news outlets. I was asked today to produce that letter under laws governing public records.
"The citizens deserve a government that represents their interests and is accountable to the people. I appreciate everyone's interest in the letter and will provide no further comment because the letter speaks for itself. I am confident the authorities will investigate as they deem appropriate."