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NAACP files ethics complaint against Leffingwell, Martinez

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YNN has learned that the Austin NAACP has filed an ethics complaint against Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez.

The complaint stems from more than 100 city e-mails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act last week.

One particular e-mail exchange between Leffingwell and Martinez has begun to raise questions. The city officials were discussing a presentation from Austin Fire Chief Rhonda Mae Kerr regarding plans to hire a consultant to help make the city fire department more diverse.

Leffingwell and Martinez make unflattering statements about Kerr, City Manager Mark Ott, President of the Austin African American Firefighters Association Bobby Johns and Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald.

Talking about Kerr's presentation, Leffingwell calls it the "Biggest snow job I've seen in a long time. Kerr is definitely a ‘company man,’ and will not earn the respect of her firefighters, in my opinion."

Martinez responds,“It was the worst, nothing will change in that department with her in charge. McDonald and Ott are jokes too. They played this hard. McDonald put pressure on Bobby to write that letter via the black community. Truly sad and Kerr's lowest moment.”

The ethics complaint filed by Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder cites a lack of professional conduct from Martinez. It also accuses Mayor Leffingwell of violating ethics by discussing a pending reverse discrimination lawsuit.

For the first time Monday, Leffingwell responded to the e-mails on camera. He said he has apologized to both City Manager Marc Ott, and Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr.

"The discussion was about hiring a consultant to increase firefighter diversity which I've always been in favor of, no question about it,” Leffingwell said. “My question was about do we need to spend this amount of money on a consultant.”

In response to calling Kerr a "company man,” Leffingwell said at the time, he didn't believe she was responding to the people who worked under her.

However, Leffingwell said doesn't feel that way anymore.

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