If ever a politician were in need of a crisis P.R. help, Mayor Vince Gray and Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown both fit the bill.
Gray continues to take a beating over the hiring of Sulaimon Brown and the children of his top aides, while Kwame Brown is still reeling from Navigatorgate and is now facing questions about $270,000 worth of previously unreported campaign activity.
There are reports that Gray is considering a shake-up of his staff, including his communications shop. And Brown recently parted ways with his spokeswoman, Traci Hughes.
If the pair are looking for a crisis P.R. expert, they should go have a chat with Councilmember Phil Mendelson‘s new chief of staff, Denise Tolliver.
Tolliver has worked for former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Councilmember Monica Conyers, both of whom had to leave office after pleading guilty to corruption charges.
A Detroit native, Tolliver cut her teeth as a TV journalist in her hometown. She says she was living in D.C. when attorneys for Kilpatrick, who was already in legal hot water over various misdeeds, offered her a job as his spokeswoman. Tolliver went back to the Motor City and flacked for Kilpatrick until he resigned and pled guilty to two felonies in 2008. (Kilpatrick is currently in federal prison.)
Tolliver then went to work for Detroit Council President Pro-Tempore Monica Conyers (wife of Congressman John Conyers). Conyers quit in 2009 after she admitted to taking bribes. (She too, is currently in federal prison.)
Tolliver describes the time working for Kilpatrick and Conyers as hard, long and stressful, but kind of exhilarating. She says she’s glad she had the experience working on crises, and says it’s been a boost to her career.
Asked how her experience working for embattled political figures compares to working for Mendo, Tolliver says: “Are you kidding? Oh, it’s so much calmer. It is so much calmer, I love it.”