HOUSTON – After nearly two weeks, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner finally answered questions on camera regarding the $95,000-a-year, no-competition executive airport internship he approved for Marvin Agumagu.
Turner has known the 31-year-old intern personally for years. When KPRC 2 Investigates asked Turner, “What is your relationship with Marvin Agumagu?” Turner responded: "It is the same or similar to my relationship with all of our city employees. It's a very respectful one, and he's a very hard worker."
Discrepancies over sent emails?
It all started with an email from Sept. 12, 2018. The email was sent by Agumagu to the city's chief development officer, Andy Icken. Agumagu wrote, "Per Mayor Turner's request, I am sending you my resume for your review."
KPRC 2 Investigates asked Turner about the email Wednesday.
NOTE: The video below has been edited to show the portion of Wednesday's news conference in which Turner responded to KPRC 2 Investigates' questions about Agumagu.
“Did you make a request of Marvin Agumagu to email Andy Icken?” KPRC 2 investigative reporter Mario Diaz asked.
"Like I said, if he was interested in the position, he certainly should apply," Turner said.
Diaz quickly followed up with the same question again. "Did you make a request for him, sir?"
Turner then admitted, “I didn't make a request, but if he was interested in the position, he certainly should apply and that is the statement I made to him."
KPRC 2 Investigates asked Turner again. ”You indicated earlier that you did not make a request of Mr. Agumagu to send that email, he states that you did, I need clarity here, sir. Are you saying that Mr. Agumagu is not being truthful in that email?"
Turner then responded: “What I am saying to you, Mario, and I try to do it in the most respectful way that I can, I would say to Marvin, and quite frankly, I have never referred to him by his last name, (spokesperson says, ‘Marvin from Nigeria is what you called him') so let me just be honest with you, but if. ... if he was, what I said (is), 'If you are interested in the position, please apply.' And I have said that to others. 'If you are interested in a position, please apply.'"
Mayor’s statements do not match up with facts
Here is the problem with Turner’s responses. At the time Agumagu sent that email to Icken, there was no executive internship at the airport to apply for.
It did not exist.
After Icken received the email, he forwarded it to Houston Airport Director Mario Diaz and included the question, "Could you develop a position?"
It is only from there that the publicly funded internship was developed, an internship created solely for Agumagu. Airport Director Diaz also used a clause in the city charter to keep the position off the radar. It was never posted, and no one else was given the opportunity to apply.
Turner then signed off on the sweetheart deal, making it official.
Turner said he had nothing to do with the program’s design
"Let me just say this to you, Mario, which I have said before, and let me say to all of you, the program in question was not designed by me.”
KPRC 2 Investigates asked, “How was this position not specifically created for Marvin, sir?”
Turner, before looking to address another question, had this response: "Let me just, I just want to quickly answer. I don't like misinformation. It is not created for him because it was a position created for him by the airport."