How much would you pay someone to fetch coffee and make photo copies?
$10,000 a year? $20,000 a year?
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's intern, a man he recently claimed not to know, earns $95,000 a year.
Meet Marvin Agumagu - an extremely well paid man with an entry level local government job.
The average internship brings in about $22,000 annually, but not Mayor Turner's guy! He makes more money than most registered nurses, professional welders, truck drivers, factory workers, police officers and, ironically, firefighters.
Not only does he bring in a hefty salary working in a cushy government position, he was granted his position during a hiring freeze caused by Prop B, a public vote to give raises to firefighters (which Mayor Turner worked feverishly to reverse).
Agumagu has history with the mayor and City Hall. Personnel records show he has worked in the office of late Council member Larry Green.
In 2016, he stood side-by-side with Turner, assisting him in a presentation of a city honor during a charity basketball game featuring Drake.
In 2017, Agumagu was yards away from the mayor during the Astros World Series parade, walking with the mayor's team on the parade route and sharing the stage with Turner for the celebration at City Hall.
In 2018, Agumagu also was listed as a guest of Turner at a banquet honoring the late Texans' owner Bob McNair.
The mayor acknowledged Agumagu in May during the City's Africa Day event, admitting he was on his team.
"Marvin from Nigeria, also on my staff working at the airport system," Turner said.
How did this come about?
In September 2018, Agumagu was looking for employment. His previous City Hall internship had ended a few months earlier.
Agumagu contacted Icken via email Sept. 12, writing, "Per Mayor Turner's request, I am sending you my resume for your review." That evening, Icken emailed Airport Director Mario Diaz ultimately asking, "Could you develop a position?"
A week later, Agumagu received a verbal offer from Diaz. The next day, Sept. 20, Icken asked Diaz about the interview. Diaz said, "I offered him a one-year internship to work directly for me."
Icken's response: "Good approach." A few weeks later, Oct. 4, Diaz sent Turner an internal letter touting Agumagu as the first candidate for the newly created "Executive Intern Program." Agumagu was given the salary of a senior staff analyst, $95,000 a year with benefits. Turner signed off in the creation of a publicly funded $95,000 internship for Agumagu.
In his letter to Turner, Diaz laid out the newly created position: "This program will provide the intern the opportunity to work closely with the most senior executive(s) of HAS. The Executive intern will assist in the day-to-day executive operations, enhancing the Executive's effectiveness by providing information, management support, representing the executive to others, conserving time by researching, and preparing reports through the collection and analyzing of data relative to the operation of the business and the Aviation industry for use in making strategic decisions. The Executive Intern will be expected to handle highly confidential information and negotiate solutions for problems of medium to high complexity as assigned by the senior executive. In addition to supporting special events and on occasion traveling with the CEO."
Diaz also wrote, "this Internship will give Mr. Agumagu the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in career paths he may be considering within the Aviation Industry, It (sic) also gives HAS the opportunity to guide and evaluate this talent."
In the final paragraph of the letter sent by Diaz to Turner, Diaz wrote, "the Executive Intern program is newly created within HAS. Based on the scope of responsibilities, needs and demands of the job, we are requesting an effective date of October 13, 2018, with a base pay rate of $3,654 biweekly or $95,000 annualized." The salary is equivalent to that of a senior staff analyst.
And the intern is making more than other veteran employees with more experience.
There is one incredible perk not listed in the letter from Diaz to the mayor that KPRC 2 Investigates uncovered in an email from Icken to Diaz.
Diaz informed Icken that once the 12- to 18-month internship wraps up, Agumagu not Diaz -– will ultimately decide if he's coming on board full-time.
Turner's Communications Director Alan Bernstein told KPRC 2 Investigates, "He will soon approach the end of the program and a new candidate will be selected to fill the position." But it's unclear if Agumagu will stay on as an airport employee.
The one question that remains unanswered: "What makes Marvin Agumagu so special that Mayor Turner signed off on the $95,000-a-year internship?"
Sept. 12, 2018: Marvin Agumagu emails Andy Icken, the City's Chief Development Officer, "Per Mayor Turner's request, I am sending you my resume for your review."
Sept. 12, 2018: Icken emails Airport Director Mario Diaz ultimately asking, "Could you develop a position?"
Sept. 19, 2018: Agumagu receives a verbal offer from Diaz.
Sept. 20, 2018: Icken asks Diaz about the interview. Diaz says, "I offered him a one-year internship to work directly for me." Icken's response: "Good Approach."
Oct. 4, 2018: Director Diaz sends Turner a letter, touting Agumagu as the first candidate for the newly created Executive Intern Program. Agumagu is given the salary of a Senior Staff Analyst, $95,000 a year with benefits. Turner signs off in the creation of a publicly funded $95,000 internship for Agumagu.
Sept. 26, 2019: Turner repeatedly denies knowing Marvin Agumagu to KPRC 2 Investigates.