Did dethroned Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick violate local laws by tapping $1 million from his political war chest to pay for his mountainous legal bills?
That’s the question being pressed by one of the ex-mayor’s leading critics, retired Wayne State University law Professor Maurice Kelman. Kelman has blasted Kilpatrick firstly for missing his filing deadline by two months, and secondly for using the money to defend himself in the infamous sex text-messaging scandal with his then-chief of staff, Christine Beatty.
Ultimately, the two married city officials were sentenced to 120 days in jail for lying in court to hide their affair. James Thomas, Kilpatrick’s lead attorney, defended tapping the campaign account.
A spokeswoman for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy declined comment on the legality of tapping the fund but said prosecutors will look at the $215,000 that Kilpatrick said he had left in the fund at the end of 2008.
“We’re interested in any money that can go toward the mayor’s restitution,” she said.
The former mayor owes the City of Detroit more than $900,000 in restitution as part of the deal he reached last year when he pleaded guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice stemming from the text message scandal.