LANSING, Mich. — In a time where many in the Lansing area are facing some of their greatest challenges, the woman who was hired to help the neediest people in the city, no longer works at Lansing City Hall.
Joan Jackson Johnson worked for the city of Lansing for 13 years as the director of human relations and community services, before she was placed on leave in January and eventually retired.
"I was shocked, I didn't anticipate anything. It literally took the wind out of my sail,' Jackson Johnson said. "I don't know, it was just some dark days there. And still even talking about it blows my mind."
Jackson Johnson was placed on leave after she was accused of giving city money to charities she was connected to and failing to disclose that conflict of interest. A city audit showed Jackson Johnson put $1.38 million into nonprofit charities she was involved with. But, Jackson Johnson says investigators haven't called her and that cloud of doubt hanging over her head needs to go away.
"What the heck is going on?" Jackson laughs while recalling the time the accusations first surfaced. "I thought what do they know that I don't know?"
Jackson Johnson isn't letting the past stop her. When FOX 47 met with her, she was dropping off groceries to a local community center. She's still helping the greater Lansing community, even if she doesn't work for the mayor's office anymore.
She says what happened doesn't change the way she feels about the people in the area, or her desire to help people in Lansing.
"Oh absolutely not, they aren't responsible for what occurred," she says.
But still, the public scrutiny and accusation have hurt her.
"The impact that had on me, I don't think anyone would ever know. One day things are going smooth and the next day you have reporters knocking on your door about all the wrongdoing," Jackson Johnson says.
Jackson Johnson says she would accept an apology from the mayor's office, but that won't erase her pain.
"I hope they are able to recognize that they made a mistake and that we can move on," she continues. "I just hope that they finally issue a letter clearing me and then I can truly move on."
Mayor Andy Schor's office released the following statement to FOX 47:
"Based upon the documentation reviewed by the City Attorneys, because federal and general fund dollars were involved, there was no other option than to commence a forensic audit. After the findings of the audit were reviewed, the City Attorney had a charter responsibility and ethical obligation to make appropriate referrals. The City hopes to receive the results of the investigation soon. Mayor Schor certainly appreciates all that Joan has done for Lansing’s residents and continues to wish her well in her retirement."
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