I am confident and hopeful that the truth will eventually prevail."
Detroit City Councilmember Janeé Ayers, who had until now been seeking re-election without conducting any known public engagement since an August FBI raid on her home and office, hosted her first constituent engagement in months Friday. Afterward, she addressed the cloud of suspicion, but notably did not claim innocence.
“Unfortunately, I cannot comment on the investigation," Ayers said in a statement to The News. "I am confident and hopeful that the truth will eventually prevail but in the meantime, I am continuing doing my job every day.”
She told the paper she'd lawyered up, but would not provide the name of her attorney.
Last week, she told WDET, “I’d like to be judged on my merit and what I’ve done over the last 6 1/2 years.”
The comments on the wide-ranging federal corruption investigation are less direct than those from her council colleague, Scott Benson, whose home and office were also raided Aug. 25. Benson said weeks ago that he does "not engage in criminality," and shared that his lawyer is Steve Fishman.
The statement to The News followed Ayers' first "coffee and conversation" event since the raids, held in the final stretch of a re-election effort from which she's been largely absent.
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The six-year councilwoman announced she would resume the constituent engagement event days after we published a story titled "Where is Detroit City Councilmember Janee Ayers?" That week, without explanation, she missed two hearings in which new regulations to curb predatory tow practices were debated and passed. The FBI's investigation centers on towing and 501c4 social welfare nonprofits, among other things. Her colleague, councilmember Andre Spivey, pleaded guilty to taking nearly $40,000 in bribes from an FBI agent and informant with the industry.
Friday's coffee and conversation was, in a way, less accessible than those of the past. Previously, the near-monthly event was held via Zoom and posted on the councilwoman's Facebook page. Ayers opted this time to host the event at a church, and just two constituents showed up. Four police officers were also present, The News reports.
Remarkably, neither constituent had heard about the raids. They reportedly asked her about quality of life concerns, like industrial zoning and blight.