Charlotte City Council member and mayoral candidate Anthony Foxx said recent news reports questioning how his wife, Samara, landed a county job were “irresponsible and deeply hurtful.”
“A close reading of those overheated reports reveals that, despite all the smoke and mirrors, there is no evidence of wrongdoing by my wife or me,” Foxx said a statement released Tuesday by his campaign manager, Bruce Clark.
Samara Foxx, who is an attorney, issued a separate statement saying the reports “border on slander and the ridiculous.”
Responding to recent reports by WCNC and the Charlotte Observer, some Mecklenburg County commissioners say they want more information about how the Department of Social Services hired three employees with close family ties to high-ranking public officials.
In July, newly hired DSS head Mary Wilson hired Samara Foxx as a special assistant earning $100,000 a year. Then earlier this year she also hired the daughter of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe and the daughter of Resident Superior Court Judge Yvonne Mims Evans.
DSS was under a department-wide employment freeze when Samara Foxx was hired. The opening was posted for one day before it was filled.
On Monday, Wilson and County Manager Harry Jones said they were satisfied that all three jobs were filled appropriately. But county commissioners Chairwoman Jennifer Roberts said more answers are needed. “There are serious allegations of cronyism,” she was quoted as saying in the Observer.
In his statement Tuesday, Anthony Foxx said “The facts in this story are simple and straightforward; Samara’s qualifications for the job are beyond question.”
Samara Foxx is a cum laude graduate of UCLA with a degree in political science and holds a law degree from the University of Michigan, according to her husband’s statement. She and Wilson had previously worked together at KOSA, an industrial products company. Wilson was the company’s general counsel and Samara Foxx reported to her.
Wilson has said it was that past relationship that caused her to hire Samara Foxx. As Wilson took over the troubled DSS, she said, she wanted someone with whom she had worked.
Jones, the county manager, told the Observer he questioned why the three hires — all African Americans — had caused such a stir. He said DSS had hired white employees since July as well. Jones also is African American.
Samara Foxx said in her statement that she had worked her entire career to “uphold the highest standards of integrity, and I expect, even as my husband begins his campaign to lead our city, that the facts, not innuendo, will prevail.”
Added Anthony Foxx: “I will not allow assaults on my wife — a highly qualified and talented professional — to go unanswered. The people of Mecklenburg are fortunate to have her.”
Jones and county commissioners will discuss allegations of cronyism within DSS in a closed session today.