Ferguson drops Devin James Group due to CEO's prior conviction

Devin James Group, the agency handling PR for Ferguson, Missouri following the fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown, was let go when news surfaced about the CEO's prior conviction.

Devin James
Devin James

ST. LOUIS, MO: Devin James Group, the agency handling PR for Ferguson, Missouri following the fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown, was let go when news surfaced about the CEO's prior conviction.

The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership released a statement Friday confirming reports that the firm would be released after the subcontractor learned about the conviction of CEO and creative director Devin James of reckless homicide in 2006 in Tennessee, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"While we admire his personal growth from difficult circumstances and commend him for his high quality work in Ferguson, it was the lack of information about his background that prompted us to make this move," the statement from the partnership read. "As of today, we are developing new vendor due diligence policies which we believe will prevent similar incidents in the future."

James, who was not immediately available for comment, told the Post-Dispatch his actions were in self-defense, and that he "routinely discloses information about his past to his clients."

While the Post-Dispatch reported early Friday morning that city officials had previous knowledge of James’ conviction before working with him, the partnership said it was unaware of his history.

Elasticity, the St. Louis partnership’s contracted communications firm, was asked to release James, according to a statement, which added that Elasticity did not have previous knowledge of the conviction either.

Devin James Group had worked with the city of Ferguson since mid-August. The partnership initially subcontracted with the firm "on marketing and communications strategies," and then later "offered Ferguson the services of the James Group when it became clear that circumstances surrounding Brown’s death were overwhelming the city’s police department and elected officials."

The Post-Dispatch also reported that according to city records, James was making $154.10 per hour.

Aaron Perlut, Elasticity founder and managing partner, said his agency was paired with James' firm by the partnership and they officially ended the relationship as of this morning.

James wrote in an email to The Washington Post that he had been "set up," and that everyone, the partnership included, were aware of his past.

Calls to Ferguson’s City Hall were not immediately returned and it is unclear whether James will continue to work for the city.

On Thursday, more than six weeks after Brown was gunned down by a white police officer, the Devin James Group released a video it produced of Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson apologizing to Brown’s family and peaceful protestors.

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