In reaction to the accusations, Jackson City Councilman Kenneth Stokes requested the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate bribery allegations made against him and Councilman Ashby Foote. Lumumba has accused both of accepting bribes in an ongoing garbage contract issue, WJTV reported. Stokes is a Democrat and Foote, a Republican.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca, Stokes wrote: “Please accept this letter as an official request by the Office of Jackson City Councilman Kenneth I. Stokes for the Office of the United States Attorney to arrange to conduct a complete and thorough investigation of the intentionally false and malicious allegations made by Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba against this office and another council member on Monday, February 28, 2022. The allegations reportedly are that ‘certain members of our council have accepted bribes and are steering a contract.’ The cooperation of this office is assured.”
“I’m going to put it plainly, and clearly so nobody misunderstands what I mean when I say in this process that our council has been compromised and they are in cozy relationships,” Lumumba said during a recent press briefing.
He added, “What I am saying, plainly and simply, is that I believe certain members of our council have accepted bribes and are steering a contract. That is what I believe, and I want to put that clearly.”
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Both council members have denied the allegations.
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Lumumba’s accusations come amid a garbage-disposal lawsuit. Houston-based Waste Management is suing the city of Jackson over allegations of improper consideration in the bidding process.
The lawsuit brought by Waste Management alleges that the mayor did not enter into good-faith negotiations with the company before choosing another company for a one-year emergency contract. Waste Management has held the garbage disposal contract in Jackson for 35 years.
Lumumba declared a garbage disposal state of emergency on Feb. 17, saying he intends to enter into a one-year contract with Louisiana-based Richard’s Disposal.
The lawsuit alleges that Lumumba made up a fake emergency to subvert the city council and requests that the council be declared the executive authority for contracts instead of the mayor, The Jackson Free Press reported.
“The mayor cannot create his own’ emergency’ to end-run Mississippi law or the approval of the Jackson City Council,” the lawsuit stated.
Waste Management asked the court for an order directing Lumumba to negotiate with the remaining participants.
On July 3, 2017, Lumumba became the 53rd — and youngest — mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. He was 34. Lumumba was re-elected mayor on June 8, 2021, winning almost 70 percent of the votes among five candidates. An attorney, husband, and father, Lumumba is the son of two veteran community activists—the late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba and Nubia Lumumba.
The anti-Democratic-establishment Lumumba had a grand progressive vision when he took office, but he was forced to adjust to the realities of the city and the office.