MARCH 10, 2008
The big city mayor who charged taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses and committed perjury to hide an extramarital affair with his chief of staff is in more trouble for giving his longtime friend millions of dollars in public contracts.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick gave companies owned by his friend at least $45 million worth of city contracts and the mayor assured his buddy sealed the deals by giving him bid strategies and sensitive information through his chief of staff and mistress, Christine Beatty.
The same local newspaper that has broken story after story about the Kilpatrick’s scandalous tenure has exposed his latest corrupt deed. It turns out that his friend, Bobby Ferguson, got illegal inside information on potential projects through secret consults with Beatty who at the time was the mayor’s top aide and mistress.
Kilpatrick also appointed his contractor friend to a pair of government development agency boards that award millions of dollars to improve Detroit’s ailing downtown. Ferguson resigned from both boards in 2005 after being charged with assault, but he had already benefited from numerous lucrative contracts.
This is just the latest scandal since Kilpatrick, a self-described “Hip-Hop Mayor,” who sports a diamond stud earring, became Detroit mayor in 2002. After spending a great deal of his first term partying with strippers at the mayor’s mansion, Kilpatrick 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.”
Things only got worse when documents involving a secret multi million-dollar public settlement proved the outlaw mayor committed perjury to hide the extramarital affair with Beatty. The documents, which Detroit officials 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 settlement involved cops who 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. The city settled with the police whistleblowers for $8.4 million and kept the deal secret.
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. The Michigan Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that “there is not FOIA exemption for settlement agreements” and that a “public body may not contract away its obligations under the FOIA.”
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