Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of Transportation, defended his wife Samara in a local controversy in 2009 that centered on whether or not Samara was selected for a six-figure government job due to her marriage to Foxx.
Foxx, 42, who was announced as the president’s transportation pick Monday, served as mayor of Charlotte, N.C., where the 2012 Democratic National Convention was held, since 2009 after a stint on the city council.
In July 2008, when Foxx was a councilman and mayoral candidate, his wife Samara Foxx was hired as a special assistant to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County’s Department of Social Services (DSS) for a $100,000 per year salary. Samara Foxx was hired by new DSS head Mary Wilson, who also hired, in early 2009, the daughters of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief and also a resident superior court judge.
DSS was reportedly in the midst of an employment freeze at the time of Samara Foxx’s hiring.
“My recollection is that the person who had been hired to be the director of Social Services here hired his spouse,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners member Dumont Clarke told TheDC. “There was some ensuing controversy about it.”
“There were some questions: was it a hire made based on a friendship or a hire based on personal acquaintances or was it a hire based on qualifications? There was a conversation about favoritism,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg county commissioner Karen Bentley told TheDC.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg county manager reportedly investigated the matter and found no evidence of wrongdoing.
“The question was, was Mrs. Foxx selected prior to the position even being posted publicly?” Bentley said, noting that Samara Foxx received the job one day after the job opening was publicly posted.
Anthony Foxx denied wrongdoing as a mayoral candidate in 2009.
“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 on March 11, 2009.
Samara Foxx’s tenure at DSS was short-lived.
“She didn’t work there that much longer after that,” Bentley said.
Samara Foxx resigned from DSS in January 2010 amid lingering “nepotism” concerns, WCNC reported.