The Corrupt Saga of Kwame Kilpatrick

By Deane Barker tags: politics

I’ve been reading the Wikipedia article about Kwame Kilpatrick, the disgraced mayor of Detroit. I’m honestly wondering if there has been a more blatantly corrupt and dishonest politician in recent history. This guy was just unbelievable.

I’ll give you the top level summary of what has been an highly entertaining (depressing?) read. Let’s start with a police officer and the chief of police suing Kilpatrick.

[…] police officers claim they were fired because of an internal probe into the mayor’s personal actions and that the firing was a violation of the whistleblower law. The trial began in August 2007 with Kilpatrick and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty both denying they were involved in an extramarital affair.

This was, of course, later proven to be true in spectacular fashion when 14,000 text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty were revealed.

Kilpatrick and Beatty, both married at the time, did discuss city business; however, many of the series of messages describe not a professional relationship but an extramarital sexual relationship between the two, often in graphic detail. The text messages further describe their use of city funds to arrange romantic getaways, their fears of being caught by the mayor’s police protection unit, and evidence the pair conspired to fire Detroit Police Deputy Chief Gary Brown.

So, to put this in order, for those of you keeping track – (1) Kilpatrick had an affair with his chief of staff, (2) spent public money on it, (3) conspired to fire the chief of police for investigating it, (4) blatantly perjured himself to cover it up, and in the process, (5) lost an $8.4 million verdict for the city of Detroit.

But, apparently he loved his family enough to make the city pay for a $25,000 single year lease on a new Navigator (that’s more than $2,000 a month…):

[a reporter learned] the city had entered an expensive one year lease for a luxury SUV. It was to be used to chauffeur the mayor’s family. The lease was for $24,995, five dollars under the amount that would have required the approval of city council. Kilpatrick, chief of staff Christine Beatty, police chief Ella Bully-Cummings, and other members of the mayor’s staff all denied that the red Lincoln Navigator was intended to be used by the mayor’s wife and children. Eventually, Kilpatrick admitted the Navigator was for his family […]

And what did the reporter get for his trouble?

[the reporter] tracked Kilpatrick down in Washington, D.C., where he was attending a mayor’s conference. When Wilson tried to question Kilpatrick about the Navigator lease, a member of the mayor’s security team is seen on camera shoving Wilson against a wall.

Still, his love for his family shines through:

On May 8, 2007, WXYZ-TV reported that Kilpatrick used $8,600 from his secret Kilpatrick Civic Fund to take his wife, three sons and babysitter on a week long vacation to a five-star California resort, the La Costa Resort and Spa. […] The story was also compounded after WXYZ’s cameras caught Kilpatrick in a fit of rage grabbing the microphone out of the hand of reporter Ray Sayah and throwing it.

It doesn’t stop:

Kilpatrick used his influence while in the Michigan legislature to funnel state grant money to two organizations that were vague on their project description. The groups were run by friends of Kilpatrick and both agreed to subcontract work to U.N.I.T.E., a company owned by Kilpatrick’s wife Carlita. Carlita was the only employee and the firm received $175,000 from the organizations.

Still loving his family:

The Detroit Free Press examined city records and found that 29 of Kilpatrick’s closest friends and family were appointed to positions within the various city departments. […] Some appointees had little to no experience, while others, among them Kilpatrick’s uncle Ray Cheeks and cousin Nneka Cheeks, falsified their résumés. Kilpatrick’s cousin, Patricia Peoples, was appointed to the deputy director of human resources, giving her the ability to hire more of Kilpatrick’s friends and family without it being viewed as a mayoral appointment.

Wait, let’s take a quick break to assault a police officer:

On July 24, 2008, at approximately 4 pm, Wayne County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian White and Joanne Kinney, an investigator from Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office, went to Kilpatrick’s sister Ayanna Kilpatrick’s home in an attempt to serve a subpoena on Bobby Ferguson. Ayanna Kilpatrick is married to Daniel Ferguson, Bobby’s cousin. While on the front porch of the home, Kwame Kilpatrick came out of the house with his bodyguards and pushed the sheriff’s deputy, as Sheriff Warren Evans said, “…pushed him with significant force to make him bounce into the prosecutor’s investigator”. The mayor yelled at Kinney “How can a black woman be riding in a car with a man named White?”

Finally, here’s the big one – it’s vague, and unproven, but nonetheless spectacular. Here’s the intro from the very beginning of his tenure as mayor:

Kilpatrick’s controversies started from a wild party alleged to have occurred in the fall of 2002, involving strippers at the official residence of the mayor – the city-owned Manoogian Mansion. It is alleged by former members of the mayor’s Executive Protection Unit that the mayor’s wife, Carlita Kilpatrick, came home unexpectedly and upon discovering Kwame with the strippers began to attack one of the women.

It gets much less funny when the stripper gets murdered, and the lead investigator starts digging a little too deep.

On March 1, 2008, a ten page sworn affidavit by former Detroit police lieutenant Alvin Bowman was filed by Yatooma in the U.S. District Court in Detroit. In that affidavit, Bowman states that “I suspected that the shooter was a law enforcement officer, and more specifically, a Detroit Police Department officer.”

Bowman explains how the highest levels of the police department, including then-police chief Jerry Oliver and his successor, Ella Bully-Cummings, deliberately sabotaged his investigation. He claims that files were deleted from homicide computers, reports were removed from the homicide file, and the Greene murder file itself was locked up so Bowman could not access it. Bowman states that eventually he was transferred out of homicide

Someone call Dick Wolf. This saga is a season full of Law and Order episodes. How did this man stay mayor for six years?

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