FEBRUARY 28, 2008
The Michigan Supreme Court has ordered the release of documents involving a secret multi million-dollar public settlement that prove Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick committed perjury to hide an extramarital affair with a city employee.
The documents, which Detroit officials have fought hard to keep secret, also reveal how city-paid lawyers schemed to help the disgraced mayor cover up his extramarital affair and subsequent perjury relating to the matter.
The Michigan High Court’s 7-0 decision also marks a huge victory for open government because the documents include previously undisclosed details of a closed-door deal in which the city paid three police whistleblowers $8.4 million to settle a lawsuit.
The cops were forced out of their jobs for raising questions about the mayor’s security team which could have led them to discover that he was having an extramarital affair with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty. Beatty resigned recently after a local newspaper published sexually explicit text messages that she exchanged with Kilpatrick because she too denied the affair under oath.
The shameful cover up was exposed when a pair of local newspapers tried to obtain information on the costly public settlement through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). City attorneys refused, claiming that settlement agreements are confidential and must be kept private even though taxpayer dollars are used.
But in its decision, the Michigan Supreme Court said “there is not FOIA exemption for settlement agreements” and that a “public body may not contract away its obligations under the FOIA.”
Despite the new developments Kilpatrick refuses to resign, maintaining that he is committed to working hard for the city.The self-described “Hip-Hop Mayor,” who sports a diamond stud earring and spent a great deal of his first term partying with strippers at the mayor’s mansion, has been unfazed by his many troubles since becoming mayor in 2002.
He got busted for passing along the bill for his expensive taste to the taxpayers of the poor and struggling city he runs. During the first 33 months of his term, Kilpatrick charged more than $210,000 on his city-issued credit card for travel, meals and entertainment. He also used $25,000 of city funds to lease a fancy sports utility vehicle for his wife at a time when Detroit’s $230 million budget deficit forced him to eliminate 3,000 city jobs and cut bus service.
Kilpatrick also used a secret tax-exempt, nonprofit that supposedly conducts voter education and community improvements to pay for a $9,000 stay at a lavish California resort. The nonprofit (Kilpatrick Civic Fund) gets about half a million dollars annually from donors that are seldom made public and some of the money comes from organized labor as “political contributions.”
Now Kilpatrick faces felony perjury which carries up to 15 years in prison. The question is, when are prosecutors going to charge the disgraced mayor for this serious crime, which has already cost taxpayers millions to pay a settlement orchestrated to hide it?
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