I-Team Special Report: Councilwoman makes corruption claims against city manager
POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - She's Poplar Bluff's newest council member.
He is a 40 year city employee.
Tonight, Angela Pearson's accusations against City Manager Doug Bagby prompt a Missouri Highway Patrol investigation and a closer look by our I-Team.
"I'm really surprised that no one else has looked into this," Angela Pearson said in a raised voice.
Pearson decided to dig into how the city does business shortly after her election win in April.
She said what she found has her both concerned and surprised.
"Why is it that I'm just now, I'm the only person that's brought this up to this level?" she asked.
Pearson said her research led her to a specific group of businessmen Bluff did consistent business with--men who sit on the board of Southern Bank with Bluff City Manager Doug Bagby.
"I want this looked into," she said. "I think the people of Poplar Bluff deserve to know what's really going on."
"I was surprised by it," Doug Bagby said regarding Pearson's claims.
Bagby said he knew Pearson had made a few document requests under Missouri's Sunshine Law since her election in April, in his eyes an unusual move by a council member.
"We would welcome any agency that she's contacted to come in and look at the information we have and make a determination on if things need to be done different," Bagby said. "We're the first ones who want to know about it."
Pearson said an initial red flag came from two documents, referring to the city's efforts to hire an insurance consultant back in 2003.
"I discovered that the insurance hadn't been bid out, well the administrative services for the insurance hadn't been bid out since 2003," she said.
We showed Bagby copies of the 2003 request for bids to hire an insurance consultant, and the letter he sent to fellow bank board member Charles Moffitt about the request. Moffitt's insurance agency got the job, and still has it today. We told Pearson made specific reference to those two documents.
"The council, not the city manager, the council selected them as our insurance consultant," he said.
The city provided us with copies of the three other bids considered back then.
And, Bagby does not deny Pearson's main concern--that he has close contact and is even friends with many of the local business leaders doing business with the city.
"My community has a little more than 17,000 people in it," he said. "I've lived here 63 years. I know everybody in town. No matter who I did business with or who the city did business with, I would know them."
Pearson sent her concerns and the documents she collected to the FBI, the Security and Exchange Commission, and the Attorney General's office, among others.
"I just want to see that it's looked into seriously and made sure that we're doing everything right, that nothing's been done wrong," Pearson said.
We asked Bagby specifically if he was giving business, city business, to his friends, his neighbors and/or his fellow board members of that bank.
"I also know that you understand how city government works," he answered. "I don't make those decisions. Councilwoman Pearson does."
The Poplar Bluff City Council will meet Tuesday night. Bagby said he's not sure if he'll talk about Pearson's report during the open portion of the meeting, or during closed session.
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