Richmond mayor fires top official after audit reveals nepotism

Mayor fires Chief Administrative Officer

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond leaders are sounding off after the mayor fired his top administrator on Wednesday.

The city department that investigates abuse of power and government waste confirmed Richmond’s chief administrative officer, Selena Cuffee-Glenn, has six relatives working for the city.

According to the Office of the Inspector General, an anonymous tip surfaced back in April. It claimed Cuffee-Glenn urged one of her subordinates to hire a relative and influenced the salary of her own daughter who was hired this year as a senior administrative aide.

The audit reveals employees with the city of Richmond all have family ties to the city’s chief administrative officer.

Her daughter, Alexis Glenn, was hired in March making $26 an hour in the Department of Public Utilities. Officials in the city’s Human Resources Department noted the pay rate seemed to be higher than the rate of others in similar positions.

The CAO’s husband is a deputy with the Richmond Sheriff’s Office, a position he’s held since 2016 - months after the CAO was appointed to her position in 2015. However, the sheriff’s office does not directly report to city administration.

Then, there’s a nephew or niece hired in January making $70,000 a year in the Department of Public Works.

The audit also reveals two cousins of the CAO were hired in February and April in the finance department, one making $18 and hour, the other making $20 an hour.

Finally, a spouse of one of the CAO’s cousins was hired in March, making nearly $55,000 in the city’s Department of Public Works.

"It is important that we protect the trust of the public and be good stewards of tax payers dollars,” Councilwoman Kimberly Gray said.

She’s concerned about the perception nepotism brings in the workplace.

"Whether or not their relative gets any form of favoritism, it is the perception of favoritism and the perception that if I’m supervising someone’s close relative, that I won’t be able to apply the same rules to that individual as I would others. It’s not just unfair to the other employees and the supervisors but it’s unfair to the relative to a degree because no matter how qualified or good they are, they can never overcome the stigma that they’re there because of who their relative is,” Gray said.

Those who conducted the audit said Cuffee-Glenn told them she wasn’t directly involved in her daughter’s hiring, which contradicts the anonymous tip that claimed she urged the hire.

Auditors also say she told them that although she really didn’t want her daughter working for the city because of the “scrutiny," saying she informed the mayor right after the employment offer was accepted.

Another concern surfacing is the fact that some of the CAO’s relatives were brought on as provisional employees - meaning not permanent, although in some cases the position could be extended, which sources say occurred in at least one case.

Gray says the issue with provisional job offers is that in some cases, they are never advertised, giving the perception of an inside job.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office says it will not pursue criminal charges because prosecutors do not believe the investigation proved a violation of city code.

Mayor Levar Stoney says he was “both concerned and deeply disappointed by its findings.”

“In my opinion, the conduct detailed in this report erodes the public trust, violates the spirit of good governance and has diminished my confidence in the CAO to continue to serve in her role," Stoney wrote. "As such, the city has separated the CAO from employment and I have appointed Lenora Reid, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Finance and Administration, to serve as Interim CAO until an acting CAO is approved by the Richmond City Council.”

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