"What is your relationship with Marvin Agumagu?"
In eight seconds, that question resulted in two denials from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Five days after telling KPRC 2 Investigates, “I have no idea who you are talking about," Turner came clean.
Turner admitted that he knew Agumagu after KPRC 2's initial report on Sept. 30 was filled with overwhelming evidence that he did.
Agumagu is the man who landed a publicly funded $95,000 a year internship at the Houston Airport System. The internship has no educational component and was crafted in a matter of days.
All of it starting with an email from Agumagu to the City's chief development officer, Andy Icken, that read: "Per Mayor Turner's request, I am sending you my resume for your review."
A few weeks later, Turner signed off on the sweetheart deal, officially creating the lucrative one-of-a-kind internship.
What is Turner saying to KPRC 2 Investigates about Agumagu?
Turner has refused to answer any questions on three occasions in the past week. On one occasion, Turner walked out on a scheduled news conference and, on another, he sneaked into the back of a building.
Turner’s communications team also turned down our request for a formal interview days after it was requested.
Agumagu’s “significant” work experience
In his Oct. 4, 2018, letter recommending Agumagu as the airport's first executive intern, Airport Director Mario Diaz wrote, Agumagu had “significant work experience in Governmental Relations and International Affairs.”
After Channel 2 Investigates reviewed personnel records, Houston-based employment attorney Todd Slobin said, "I don't see anything in these documents that show significant international experience."
What Agumagu’s resume reveals
- He worked for six months as an intern for the Mayor's Office of Government Relations.
- He worked for one month as an intern for the Office of the City Attorney.
- He worked for four months as an administrative assistant in the Mayor’s Office of Trade and International Affairs, where he worked to promote Houston globally.
- He worked for five months as an international outreach liaison and constitute representative for U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.
In all, Agumagu's resume shows a total of approximately 18 months of government relations experience.
Mayor’s inner circle defending the $95,000 internship through social media
Agumagu’s bachelor's, master's and law degrees have been key talking points in Turner's staunch defense of Agumagu's sweetheart deal. Turner's inner circle spent hours on Twitter this past weekend, attempting to justify the $95,000 internship.
Bill Kelly, the mayor's director of government relations, had his fingers working overtime bragging about the credentials of current and former staff, including Agumagu, writing, at one point:
“Intern: Marvin Agumagu. Lawyer.”
One huge problem: That’s false.
Agumagu is not a lawyer, according to the State Bar of Texas. A Democratic strategist told Kelly to “stop tweeting.”
Licensed city attorneys making less than Agumagu
Channel 2 Investigates identified several licensed attorneys working for the City of Houston are making less than Agumagu's $95,000 a year salary. We counted over 20 state-licensed attorneys with years of experience that all make less than Agumagu.
Other millennials had no shot at Agumagu’s internship
In the aftermath of our investigative reports, Turner has been touting his administration’s approach to embracing millennials. Turner made the position clear during the Oct. 2 debate, saying, "I'm proud of the fact we are bringing millennials into City Hall."
In the case of the publicly funded $95,000 a year airport internship, however, Agumagu was the only millennial who got a shot.
The executive internship was never publicly posted and never shared with other millennials who were working hard for an opportunity. Diaz and Turner kept the executive internship off the radar, using a clause in the city charter.
Turner signed off, knowing full well that no one else could compete against Agumagu, whom Turner wrote he had known personally in 2017.
One key question remains unanswered: What is Turner's relationship with Agumagu?