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Home » Uncategorized » CPU’s Mark Johnson asks David Hunt about the FBI report CPU’s Mark Johnson asks David Hunt about the FBI report

Clarksdale Public Utilities.ClarksdaleNews received the following from Clarksdale Public Utilities General Manager Mark Johnson early last Friday morning.  The email was also sent to The Clarksdale Press Register, WROX and Mississippi Today.  It follows below exactly as received, with added comment(s) in parentheses.

This document from Johnson also included three other email attachments.  They are also found below.

Mark Johnson’s email follows:

In the email above titled FBI Discussion July 3, David Hunt said he reported a violation by CPU to the FBI. I don’t believe this occurred, because there is no evidence of a violation by CPU to report. I have repeatedly asked that Hunt produce the specifics of the report to the FBI, and he has not provided it. In the emails above I have highlighted in yellow all matters I mention associated with the FBI or law enforcement, and in these emails I repeatedly requested the FBI report from Hunt and the Board of Commissioners. Hunt further stated he provided my name and that of Brandon Soldevila to the FBI. This is another false allegation in a long line of false allegations by the CPU Board of Commissioners against Steve Reed, Chris Campos and me.

The three email attachments follow:

July 3, 2018 Hunt email response to Johnson:

(The July 3, 2018 email Johnson refers to above from David Hunt was received.  It is not reprinted for the public here because it contains the following language “The information transmitted is intended for viewing only by the addressee(s) and may contain confidential and/or privileged material.  Any review, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, taking of any action in  reliance upon this information by persons or entities other than the intended recipient(s) is prohibited.”  ClarksdaleNews has also opted not to comment for or against either party on this email in general.)

July 16, 2018 email from Johnson to David Hunt and the CPU Board (exactly as received)

Commissioners,

Below are recommendations on matters pertaining to Employee and Public Safety and Recording Telephone lines.

Board Investigations and Decisions Pertaining to Employee and Public Safety:

  1. CPU Commissioner A has been accused by Employee #1 of sexual harassment. I have read a notarized statement from Employee #1, and three CPU employees have seen the statement. CPU employee #5 reportedly witnessed the harrassment. There may be audio files and text messages further confirming this alleged inappropriate activity. When the employee brought this to my attention in late May 2018, I told Employee #1 to report it to the Whistleblower Program, and then discontinue all personal, email, text and telephone contact with Commissioner A. In early July 2018, I suggested Employee #1 also report this to the Mayor and Margarette Meeks to be included in the State Auditor’s investigation into abuse of power by elected and appointed officials in Clarksdale. To my knowledge Employee #1 has done neither. The Board has to investigate this matter and resolve it. If the allegations are true, Commissioner A must resign or be dismissed by the Board of Mayor and City Commissioners in the interest of employee safety.
  2. A recent matter of CPU Employee #2 sending inappropriate texts messages to Employees #6, #3 and #4 was reviewed by the Board. Employee #2 was terminated. As I recall, a statement was made during a July 10 Board meeting that Employee #2 was possibly assured the details of this matter would not be released to the public. It is possible that law enforcement was informed of this matter before or after the hearing occurred. The Board must determine if it is obligated to inform law enforcement in the interest of employee and public safety.
  3. The appeal hearing for Employee #2 (same as from above) was unusual. The General Manager was prepared to call Employees #6, #3 and #4 as witnesses, however rather than starting the hearing various matters were discussed. The Board Attorney was attending the meeting by Conference Call. Employee #2 indicated Employees #6, #3 and  #4 had made inappropriate remarks to him and took inappropriate action against him. Employee #6, #3 and  #4 were available and sworn in as witnesses, but were never called to testify or be questioned by Employee #2 or anyone on the Board. The Board must determine if it wishes to investigate Employees #6, #3 and #4 actions reported by Employee #2 during the hearing to determine if discipline or termination of these three employees is merited and if any action of these three employees should be referred to law enforcement in the interest of employee and public safety.

All of the above matters pertain to the safety of employees and the public, and the General Manager recommends these be addressed by the CPU Board and Board of Mayor and City Commissioners as appropriate.

Telephone Recoding Investigation:

I have the following concerns about the telephone recording matter and those are stated below:

  • On July 2 a meeting attended by the Board Attorney, David Hunt, Jim Hemphill, former CPU General Manager, and two CPU Commissioners was held in the CPU Board Room. One employee was interviewed and questioned on two different matters. I am requesting the written report of interview. The official minutes of the July 2 meeting don’t reflect the questioning of an employee during this meeting. The details surrounding the July 2 meeting have caused many concerns.
  • Hemphill provided a letter to at least one CPU Commissioner on this matter. I have reviewed the letter, and I am requesting that the Board enter the letter in its original entirety into the CPU minutes at the next Board meeting as received and accepted by the Board.
  • On the morning of June 13, 2018, I met with Brandon Soldevila, Teena Rowe, Steve Reed and Liz Haynes in my office to determine who ordered the recording of all CPU telephone lines. Liz Haynes indicated Jim Hemphill ordered all CPU lines to be recorded. Reed and Soldevila said little, but did not disagree with Haynes. I sent my written report stating Hemphill ordered the lines recorded to the Board and Board Attorney. No emails were provided to me to verify Hemphill ordered this. On June 26 in the CPU Board meeting, the Board Attorney asked to speak to Liz Haynes. I brought Liz Haynes in the Board Room. She said Jim Hemphill ordered the lines to be recorded. Hunt then asked Haynes if she heard this from Jim Hemphill’s lips. Haynes then said no, but Brandon Soldevila told her Hemphill ordered all lines to be recorded. As I understand it, on July 2 at approximately 4:15 pm Brandon Soldevila was questioned by David Hunt, Jim Hemphill, George Miller and Don Mitchell regarding who ordered that all CPU telephone lines be recorded. This was not an official Board meeting. There was no quorum and no notice. Soldevila indicated in this meeting, as I understand it, that Steve Reed ordered the recording. I have asked for a written report from this meeting regarding what Soldevila actually said, but have not received it. Steve Reed has developed a detailed statement indicating Jim Hemphill ordered the recording and included in this statement are two emails. A search of the CPU minutes do not show who ordered the recording of the lines.
  • The Board Attorney at the July 10 Board meeting described his reporting of the telephone recording incident to the FBI as follows: Hunt called the Oxford Office of the FBI on an unrelated matter. Hunt was then transferred to the Jackson Office of the FBI to report the telephone recording matter, where Hunt was then transferred  to another Office of the FBI, where he talked to an FBI official about the matter he believes is a violation of federal law committed by CPU.  Hunt mentioned my name and Brandon Soldevila’s name to the FBI official as contacts regarding this matter. It was inappropriate for Hunt to provide my name to the FBI without my permission or knowledge. Hunt should have given the names of the Commissioners who he was reporting this matter on behalf of and who apparently have an understanding of what violations they believe occurred, when they occurred and stopped occurring. If the FBI contacts me I will provide them the name and contact information of each Commissioner whom this matter was reported on the behalf of. I will then wait for direction from the Board on how to proceed.
  • Since my name was provided and mentioned, I am requesting the Board secure a written report from Hunt regarding what was communicated to the FBI official via telephone by Hunt and the name of the FBI official he talked to and the date and time the conversation was held.
  • As I understand it this contact with the FBI was made by the Board Attorney at the request of the CPU Board because the Board members were of the understanding that since they were aware of a violation of federal law and if the violation was not reported as soon as they were knowledgable of it, the Board member could face fines and/or jail time.
  • My observation to the Board is that this matter must still be reported by you or on your behalf in writing if your wish is to self-report the matter. I recommend the following. Write a letter to the FBI on CPU letterhead explaining what the Board understands the violation to be, when it started, when it stopped and what you are now doing to prevent it from happening again, and any other details you may have acquired since the time it was discovered. Then each Commissioner should sign the letter and mail it, return receipt requested, to the Oxford Office of the FBI. Also send a copy of this same letter, return receipt requested, to the US Attorney’s office in Jackson. To clarify, the FBI investigates criminal activity, and the US Attorney prosecutes, if evidence, time and priorities allow for it.
  • After this matter is reported in writing as recommended, CPU may choose to complete an internal investigation and/or cooperate with an FBI investigation of this matter should one occur. If an internal investigation is done, it is recommended that the CPU Board select an independent investigator of its own choosing. I have assembled about 50 pages of emails, handwritten notes and other documents regarding this matter since it was first surfaced by a Commissioner in June 2018. The details surrounding the July 2 meeting make complete independence in this matter a must. This independent report will have to be provided to the FBI given the circumstances.
  • This matter has to also be appropriately communicated, as directed by the CPU Board, to City and State authorities along with the press and employees to build the public trust and to be transparent in all we do.

I am very concerned regarding all of the matters above for differing reasons. Could you please notify me regarding how the Board would like to proceed on the matters above. There may be a need for a special meeting to discuss this.

Mark

July 18, 2018 Johnson email to David Hunt and the CPU Board (exactly as received)

Commissioners,

I appreciate the Board accepting my recommendation to hire an independent counsel to investigate the telephone recording matter. Next I would ask that you please select an independent counsel of your own choosing. The July 2 meeting brought the credibility of this investigation into question for many, including me. I am requesting that the three Commissioners who did not attend the July 2 meeting make this selection, if the Board wishes to conduct an investigation.

Causing more credibility issues, are troubling statements and actions stated below:

  • In 2017 Persons X and Y called the General Manager to meet in Randy Scrivner’s Office in Starkville, MS to question the work, education and certification of Employee #7. Randy Scriver refused to be a part of this, and declined to discredit Employee #7.
  • “Employee #7 has a target on his back, and they are out to get him.” CPU Commissioner
  • “This thing was drummed up to try to get rid of Employee #7.” CPU Commissioner
  • “Herring is David’s friend.” CPU Commissioner
  • “They are digging a hole for themselves, and it keeps getting deeper.” CPU Commissioner
  • Commissioner B referred to Employee #7 as a fat son of a bitch to CPU employee #8 in the CPU Building.
  • Commissioner B asked for the General Manager’s cooperation to terminate Employee #7.
  • “They can’t investigate themselves.” CPU Commissioner
  • “Mark, No other CPU employee is hurting you more than Employee #7.” Other person
  • “Mark, You are too good of a guy.” Other person
  • “Commissioner A told Employee #5 that Commissioner B asked employee #8 to help Commissioner B terminate Employee #7 and Commissioner B would then help Employee # 6 get the job of Employee #7. Employee #5 conveyed all this to Employee #7.

CPU can communicate to the FBI that we will support any investigation they conduct, and then conduct our own afterward as appropriate. Additionally, when this matter first surfaced in the CPU Board Room a statement was made regarding employee discipline, lie detector tests, who ordered the recording and why. This alarmed me. As  General Manager of CPU, I am the only party who can recommend discipline to the Board. For anyone to mention such matters is very premature, raises credibility questions and infringes on the General Manager’s area of responsibility.

Like all of you, I have a right to not be implicated or associated with a potentially unlawful matter in which I have no involvement or any specific knowledge of. In the past I have held a security clearance which was based on a comprehensive background check. I am hopeful my ability to hold the needed security clearance level in the future is not impacted by an unauthorized report to the FBI. It’s again very disconcerting to me that my name was referenced without my permission or knowledge. I am again requesting that the Board provide me a written report of what was reported to the FBI when my name was referenced.

There do appear to be two recording machines in the possession of CPU with recordings on them. I  have not listened to any conversations on these machines, and will not unless directed to do so by law enforcement. I recommend that CPU turn over these recording machines to law enforcement.

I respectfully request that the Commissioners please take control of this matter and establish a majority of Commissioners committed to handling this in a professional and comprehensive manner. If this is a matter of a majority of Commissioners wishing to terminate me or another employee, that can best be addressed in executive session. Please also bring this matter under your control before harm is done to those who may then claim they were damaged as a result of all this.

Following is a quote from Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein which has application to this matter: “The way we operate in the Department of Justice, if we are going to accuse someone of wrongdoing, we have to have admissible evidence, and credible witnesses, we need to be prepared to prove our case in court. And we have to fix our signature to the charging document, and that is something that not everybody appreciates,” Rosenstein told the audience.”I just don’t have anything to say about documents like that that nobody has the courage to put their name on…”

It’s reasonable to ask in this matter, is there admissible evidence, are there credible witnesses, are the Commissioners and Board Attorney prepared to fix their signature on this matter and prepared to prove the case?

Mark Johnson

We look forward to returning to work for CPU and for the citizens of Clarksdale.

 

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