It appeared as though we crashed a Christmas party when we showed up at Cleveland City Hall on Friday, just over a week after the building was raided by agents from the FBI, IRS, and HUD.
I was there to ask about city employee Khalil Ewais.
“Why wouldn’t he right then and there be cut off from his job?” I asked Media Director Dan Williams.
Some would question why they were celebrating, considering what's on the line.
I told Williams, “It appears to me that the people who hired him, or even the mayor would have some sort of liability that he is working for this office."
He replied that “everyone gets due process.”
During last week's raid, the Feds took records relating to Pioneer Engineering, a company owned by Ewais, an Engineer and Section Chief for Construction Inspection with the City.
Authorities won't say why they took the records.
We can tell you: If you work for the city, it's against Ohio law to own a company that benefits from, or has an “interest” in doing work with the city.
"They go on to define any public interest as anything you might gain of public value. It could be shares, it could be stock it could money it could be pay,” explained Attorney Joe Diemert.
Diemert is the law director for a number of municipalities across Northeast Ohio.
“Wouldn't the city be aware of this code? I asked.
“Well of course,” he said. "Everyone is trained in these codes. Every employee is instructed on these codes,” he continued.
We can't say if Mayor Frank Jackson knew of this potential conflict, but the Department Head and the Director of Human Resources certainly knew, because they signed off on Ewais' request to run Pioneer in 2015.
And then there's this: According to documents we obtained from the Secretary of State, Ewais formed Pioneer back in 2008, a year after he was hired by the city's Engineering Department.
Why then, did he first get the city's approval seven years later? It was also three months after he tried to resign from his position because he felt he was undercompensated.
In fact why did he get approval to run Pioneer at all?
"Everything we've been asked to provide we have provided. So we’re gonna let that stand on its own for now and let the process work itself out, said Williams.
I reached out to Khalil Ewais, but didn't hear back.
Late Friday, the city sent us its policy on employees who have secondary jobs. From what we saw, it only addresses whether or not their time or efficiency at their city job would be impacted…not conflicts of interest.