muckraker report

Is Detroit’s new emergency manager a Democrat? Let’s follow the cash

Handout photo of Kevyn OrrKevyn Orr, who is widely believed to be Gov. Snyder’s pick for Detroit’s emergency manager, once hosted an extravagant 80th birthday party for Democratic U.S. Rep. John Conyers.

A partner in Washington D.C. with Jones Day, one of the county’s biggest law firms, Orr donated $5,000 to President Obama’s campaign in 2012 and $1,250 to the Democratic National Committee in 2006, according to

Since 2006, Orr donated about $15,000 to Democratic candidates for federal office. His lone contribution to a Republican went to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, of Ohio. Both are graduates of University of Michigan Law School.

While the donations are relatively small, they show a pattern of supporting – at least financially – Democratic candidates.

Some were concerned the Republican governor would appoint someone from his own party.

Not that it mattes, said Rev. Charles Williams II, head of the Michigan chapter of New York-based Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network of community activists.

“His appointment eviscerates the vote of African Americans,” said Williams II, one of the leading forces behind demonstrations against an EM. “The city does not need an emergency manager. We need to protect democracy in Detroit.”

Snyder said the city is within a month or two of running out of cash to pay employees, including cops and firefighters. The city also is unable to manage its enormous long-term debt, Snyder contends.

The governor is to announce the appointment of an emergency manager today at 2 p.m. in Detroit.

Got tips or suggestions? Contact Steve at 

Steve Neavling, who lives on the city’s east side, is an investigative journalist, a freelance reporter for Reuters and former city hall reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Neavling explores corruption, Detroit’s unsung heroes and the underbelly of an oft-misunderstood city.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates, investigations, photos and videos of the Motor City. 

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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  • MrSin

    Mr. Williams of NAN says that the appointment of an EM disembowels the vote of African Americans, never mind the 10% of the city’s population that is not black. But the larger point is that the choice is an EM now or straight to bankruptcy in a few short months. The choice is a politically appointed manager with the mandate to manage finances and communicate their actions to the appropriate entities, or a federal bankruptcy judge with far less transparency and flexibility.

    Which is worse?

  • TaterSalad

    Congressman John Conyers, (D-Michigan) tells his audience that America’s deficit of $16.7 Trillion is “not endangering us a bit” and isn’t a problem. This statement from a Congressman who’s wife just got out of federal prison for extortion (Monica Conyers – Google).

  • P

    Talk to me about having not having an EM when things get better in the city! I don’t know what anyone can do differently if there is no money…. Oh wait, the governor will release all the money he’s held out on for months. Well if this is what will increase safety in the city, street lights on, fire station upgrades, etc then I’m all for it. But let’s just wait and see!

  • Jimmy Mac

    This is entitlement at its finest. ” We should have the vote no matter who has to finance it. We are special! ”

    The only thing special about you is your inability to govern yourselves.

    • Valerie Burris

      Since when did my vote relate to the finanical heath of my city, county sate of fedral government for that matter?

    • Valerie Burris

      sorry for the typos

  • Michael Dallen

    Frankly, I’m relieved to hear that he’s a Democrat. Shows common sense.

  • Detroiter

    Not interested in Kool-Aid, Georgia, no matter how refreshing. I am interested in working street lights, lowering crime, and basic city services, all of which Detroit’s elected leaders have failed to give us. Our elected city council voted in this consent agreement that gave us an EFM – that’s democracy in my book.

    • cattgirl0813

      May I use your argument when I talk to people who are trying (in vain) to convince me and my friends that an EFM or even a managed bankruptcy is “evil”? I don’t know what else to say to get through to them, and this may help.

    • SuburbanThug

      A lame-duck session voted in this legislation that is nearly identical to the one Michigan voters just struck down. Those same republicans tried to keep it out of voter hands in the first place. You have a strange view of democracy.

  • Jimmy

    They never get past the concept of loss of democracy to address the financial issues. They have this notion that if they ignore it, it will go away. Denial is not a river in Egypt.

  • Tim Hurley

    Charles Williams II paranoid racism eviscerates logic and is an embarrassment to not only African Americans, but those of all races who won’t drink the kool-aid or play the race card.

    • Georgia Johnson

      The RACE card were played long before he was BORN. To the believer in DEMOCRACY he speak the TRUTH The Kool-aid he serve is REFRESHMENT for the SOUL OF PEOPLE.