"I have no idea who you are talking about."
This is the response KPRC 2 Investigates received from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Thursday when asked if he knew Marvin Agumagu, a 31-year-old who was put into a $95,000 City of Houston internship position. The mayor on two occasions made it quite clear that he did not know anyone named Agumagu.
Through our investigation, KPRC 2 learned that Turner has crossed paths often with Agumagu in the last three years and was aware of a move to create a publicly funded internship at the airport that would pay him an eye-popping figure for an intern.
Who made the decisions? What will this highly paid intern actually do?...
What five words started our investigation?
"Could you develop a position?" was the question posed by the City's Chief Development Officer Andy Icken, to Mario Diaz, director of the Houston Airport System. KPRC 2 identified the question during a lengthy review of more than 8,000 emails within the airport system.
A plan was hatched between two City of Houston directors and in a matter of weeks, while in the midst of the mayor's hiring freeze, Agumagu was offered a position as the first candidate for the airport's Executive Internship program. The mayor signed off on the deal, creating the $95,000-a-year internship.
Here are the numbers behind KPRC-TV's investigation:
So at a time when the mayor had announced a hiring freeze, the city created a special internship program specifically designed for Marvin Agumagu that paid close to a six-figure salary.
The response to the report from the mayor's press secretary is laughable. Frankly, it's also surprising that she didn't play the race card, though no doubt that defense is coming next.
Turner’s opponent, Tony Buzbee put out a press release following the KPRC-TV report, raising some good questions, “the mayor claims he can’t find the money to pay the firefighters or fix our streets, yet he created a $95,000 internship position for one young man. Shouldn’t we know why he did that? What is their relationship? Who else does he have a relationship with that he is wasting taxpayer monies doing the same thing?”