2 Houston mayoral candidates call for investigation into high-paid city internship

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Two Houston mayoral candidates called for an investigation of the city's high-paying internship that was brought to light in a KPRC 2 investigation.

Here's a look at what the KPRC 2 investigation revealed and what the candidates are saying.

The $95,000 internship

KPRC 2 Investigates reviewed more than 8,000 emails within the Houston Airport System and found an exchange between the city's chief development officer and the airport system director about creating an executive internship program. Mayor Sylvester Turner signed off on the deal that created the $95,000-a-year position during a hiring freeze. 

READ: Why did the city of Houston hire a $95,000 intern?

That position was filled by 31-year-old Marvin Agumagu, a person Turner has denied knowing when questioned by KPRC 2 investigative reporter Mario Diaz. In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, the mayor said he was caught off guard by the question when he was rushing to another appointment.

READ: What Turner is saying about the KPRC 2 investigation

Tony Buzbee: 'Defining moment'

"This is a defining moment of this campaign," Buzbee said during a news conference Tuesday.

Buzbee called into question the relationship between Turner and Agumagu. He showed a photo from social media of Turner and Agumagu together in the mayor's office and said the photo has been deleted.

"It's all relationships with Sylvester Turner," Buzbee said.

The mayoral candidate called for an independent investigation of the internship program by the Texas Rangers, the state investigative agency, and the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

"How many other internships has he created with just an email?" Buzbee asked.

Dwight Boykins: Formal request of investigation

City Councilman Dwight Boykins, who is running for mayor, released a letter Tuesday afternoon, in which he requests an investigation by the city's Office of Inspector General.

"As Chairman of the Committee on Ethics, Elections and Council Governance (EECG), I am formally requesting that the Office of Inspector General launch an inquiry to determine whether there were any improprieties surrounding the process involved in Agumagu's hiring," Boykins wrote.

Boykins ended the letter by saying he believes the investigation is in the interest of transparency.

"I believe we owe it to the taxpayers to understand what happened," Boykins wrote.

Two weeks after filing the request, the OIG closed the matter and said Boykins "did not intend to file a complaint with the Office of Inspector General for fraud, waste or abuse against Mayor Turner."

Click here to read the letter from the OIG.

Boykins said that was not the case, and he plans on refiling the complaint. He said his request was misinterpreted, and he didn't file the complaint for "fraud, waste or abuse," instead, he checked the "other" box on the complaint form.

About the Authors:

Aaron Barker has been a senior digital editor at KPRC 2 since 2016. As a meteorologist, he specializes in stories about the weather. He has covered Hurricane Harvey, the Astros first World Series win, the Santa Fe High School shooting, the ITC fire and Tropical Storm Imelda.