Michigan Officials Used COVID Relief Money To Give Themselves Bonuses

By Bill Galluccio

July 23, 2021

Money stack
Photo: Getty Images

Elected officials in a primarily rural Michigan county are under fire after voting to give over $500,000 in federal coronavirus relief money directly to employees and themselves. Records obtained by The Flint Journal show the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners voted to give a $25,000 bonus to "top-level administrators" and $12,500 to department heads. In total, around 250 employees bonuses, which officials described as "hazard pay."

"I think that I earned it," Commissioner Cindy Garber said. "I work really hard at this job. I was here in person all through this crazy year."

Shiawassee County Administrator Brian Boggs, who was awarded a $25,000 bonus, said he also supported the payments, which were meant to help the employees who work for the county.

"It was to the benefit of the employees," he said, "and perhaps we should not pursue other ideas like this to get them additional funding if this is how it's going to be received."

Not all of the commissioners agree. Marlene Webster said she was "mortified" when she saw the money in her bank account and vowed to return it.

"I'm giving the money back," Webster told WILX. "I think one commissioner is giving it to a nonprofit, so those actions indicate that we truly did not know this money was coming to us."

The Argus-Press reported that county resident Nichole Ruggiero has filed a lawsuit to block the payments.

"The arrogance of this board is outlandish," Ruggiero said.

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