The man appointed by Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry to lead a committee for ethical business practices inflated his résumé in recent years, wrongly claiming credit for achievements that were not his, according to a Herald-Leader review.
In his official biographies, DeAndre McGinnis Mitchell, 38, claims to hold a bachelor's degree from the University of Toledo (he attended for two years but did not graduate) and claims to be founder of Premier Mortgage Group (he was hired as a loan officer by the actual founder, although he later did take control of the company).
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On Tuesday, after being confronted with the inaccuracies, Mitchell said he is resigning as chairman of the mayor's Commission on Mortgage Lending Practices.
Newberry created the 13-member panel last week to to find out why black homeowners in Lexington pay higher mortgage interest rates than whites and to encourage ethical lenders to provide services to the "broader community."
"I wasn't anticipating this sort of witch hunt. I wasn't told 'Hey, they're really going to vet you,'" Mitchell said in an interview at the downtown offices of his company, National Diversity Solutions, created last year, which connects minority-owned businesses with various industries.
"I don't want this to become an issue about me and my character when it should be about these people and the services that should be available to them," he said.
In a statement, Newberry said he accepted Mitchell's resignation "with regret."
"I appointed Mr. Mitchell as chair ... because of his experience and understanding of the mortgage industry, and because he has done a lot in this community to help people realize the American dream of home ownership," Newberry said. "This was not about his résumé, it was about his accomplishments."
Mitchell contributed $625 to Newberry's mayoral campaign.
Mitchell said he never intended to deceive anyone, and the mistakes in his professional biography were based on simple misunderstandings.
Mitchell first began to publicly claim a B.A. from the University of Toledo — later specified as a double-major in political science and sociology — in 2006, when then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher named him to the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service. That item was included in Fletcher's press release about Mitchell and sent to news media in the state.
The college degree reappeared in a 2007 press release as Fletcher put Mitchell on the state Board of Housing, Buildings and Construction, where he remains. When Mitchell posted his career profile on the Web site LinkedIn.com, he listed his education as "University of Toledo, 1989-1993."
However, Mitchell only attended the university from September 1989 to June 1991. He did not earn a degree, a fact that he acknowledged Tuesday.
Mitchell said he and the governor's office might have misunderstood each other the first time they prepared his official biography. When the governor's people asked about his college degree, he said, he might have thought they were just asking where he went to school and what he studied, because he did take some political science classes in Toledo.
"I honestly can't say that maybe I didn't say I had a degree when I meant to say 'I majored,'" he said. "I don't know. That's tricky."
After the first time, however, he chose not to correct the error. He said he decided that it looked better for someone in his position, running a mortgage company, to have a college education.
"The college thing is what it is. Did I let it go longer than I should have? Yeah, probably," Mitchell said. "But people looked at me a certain way. People expected me to have a degree."
Creator and founder
Mitchell also claims to be founder of Premier Mortgage Group, a Lexington firm that merged earlier this year with American Lending Group. In Mitchell's biography on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Web site, he says he "created and founded" Premier.
However, Premier actually was founded in 1998 by Stanley Richard Stamper, who hired Mitchell as a loan officer soon after the firm opened. Stamper and his wife are named on the incorporation papers with the secretary of state's office. Stamper was listed as full owner as late as February 2000, when Premier opened a $50,000 credit line at Bank One, according to court records.
In an interview Tuesday, Stamper said Mitchell joined Premier as an employee and rose in the ranks to become president and co-owner. Stamper remained chairman until 2003, when he became a minority owner, according to state records.
"My ex-wife and I started that company. We hired him," Stamper said. "I don't get why he would claim this. I just don't like people who claim credit for things they didn't do."
In reply, Mitchell said he did not "technically" found Premier, but he built it into a successful company before its merger in January. Last year, Commerce Lexington named Premier its Minority Business of the Year (and described it as "founded in 1998 by D. McGinnis Mitchell").
"I mean, I did found what that company became, so in that sense, I am the founder, even if I'm not in the technical sense," Mitchell said. "I don't see that as anything untruthful."