Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson may have a lot of bad things to say about Detroit, but the fiery Republican may want to focus on his own problems.
A Motor City Muckraker review of public records has found a highly questionable relationship between the sixth-term executive and a long-time friend, Peter E. Meagher III, whose Farmington Hills firm receives county contracts while simultaneously helping Patterson pump millions of dollars into his campaign war chest.
What’s more, Meagher is the treasurer for a nonprofit, Boost Oakland Business, which Patterson operates to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in secret donations from corporations and special interest groups, tax records show. The group spends about $140,000 a year but is not required to disclose details. The 501(c)(4) organization is the same type of controversial tax-exempt group that landed Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in prison for misspending money in his Kilpatrick Civic Organization.
Although federal law generally limits the tax-exempt organizations to promoting “social welfare,” Patterson’s campaign committee, political action committee and nonprofit share the same consultants and Farmington Hills address – 27725 Stansbury Blvd., where Meagher is the managing director and a partner at UHY Advisors, a group of financial experts.
Those consultants also benefit from county contracts, including ones that pay UHY employees up to $375 an hour for financial services, county records show. UHY Advisors also was hired to handle the suburban dispute with Detroit over the water system.
Patterson came under fire this week following a New Yorker article in which the executive said he has nothing good to say about Detroit.
“Anytime I talk about Detroit, it will not be positive,” he said. “Therefore, I’m called a Detroit basher. The truth hurts, you know? Tough shit.”
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.