Hansen Clarke to Challenge Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick

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Michigan State Senator Hansen Clarke, according to his facebook page, is gathering volunteers and gearing up to challenge Michigan Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the mother of scandal plagued former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. It is my contention that Mrs. Kilpatrick is in serious danger of losing her seat in the August Primary.

Mrs. Kilpatrick’s favorable ratings are in the toilet. According to the last poll taken in August,  her re-elect number is 27%, which is beyond toxic.   The recent headlines surrounding her son’s refusal to pay restitution to the city following the sex-scandal that drove him from office and the imminent joint indictment of her son and ex-husband, cannot possibly have helped matters.

The former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus is facing a formidable challenger.  Clarke, 52, a biracial brotha of East Indian and African American descent, is a gifted, low-key politician with a progressive record of achievement in the Michigan Legislature. Clarke sponsored legislation to impose a two-year moratorium on foreclosures that disproportionately plague black and brown communities.  Moreover, he introduced a bill to expand hate crimes laws to protect those targeted on the basis of sexual orientation or gender expression.   Clarke challenged Kwame for Mayor in 2005 and made a brief run for Governor this year before he ended his candidacy.  This is a race he can win.  If he goes forward and files, and has the field all to himself, the odds are heavily in his favor.

I’ll have more to say about this in a later post.

National Enquirer: John Edwards to be indicted

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Hat Tip: National Enquirer

The ultimate fall from grace,  a Federal grand jury is about to indict John Edwards, The ENQUIRER has learned exclusively.

In another shocker, close sources say Edwards’ estranged wife Elizabeth could help send the former presidential candidate to jail!

Edwards, the disgraced two-time Presidential loser, is being investigated by the feds, including the FBI and IRS, for possible campaign violations related to paying his mistress Rielle Hunter.

Fired cop may challenge Kwame’s Mama

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Hat Tip: Robert Snell and Charlie LeDuff / The Detroit News

DETROIT — Fired Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown, fresh from beating Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick during the police whistle-blower trial, is mulling a campaign for mayor or against the mayor’s mother, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.

Brown and one of his consultants confirmed today that polling will begin soon to gauge his support for a run at mayor next year or a campaign this year for the 13th District, which spreads from the Grosse Pointes to Downriver.

Brown insists it’s not personal and would only discuss his interest in taking on Cheeks Kilpatrick, 62. But his candidacy could turn what has traditionally been a campaign cakewalk for the six-term congresswoman into a bitter race with a subplot of the decorated deputy police chief against the mother of the man who ended his law enforcement career.

“I certainly don’t blame her for anything he’s done,” Brown said. “It’s really her record I want to run against, not him.”

Brown said he plans to seed the campaign with money from the $3 million share settlement he received last year when a Wayne County jury found that Kilpatrick ousted him for investigating the mayor and his security team.

Don’t talk about it, bruh, be about it.  

Playa Mayor and his Ho plead not guilty

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Hat Tip: BY DAVID ASHENFELTER AND JOE SWICKARD • DETROIT FREE PRESS

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff Christine Beatty stood mute at their arraignments on charges of perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and misconduct today, and a magistrate entered not guilty pleas on their behalf.

They each were released on personal bonds of $75,000, and preliminary examinations for each were set for June 9.

Beatty’s attorneys asked Chief Magistrate Steve Lockhart whether she would be allowed to leave the state to visit her two children, who are in Chicago. Lockhart said yes, but she would have to receive advance permission for any other trips. Kilpatrick also will be allowed to leave the state without permission, but he must give advance notice of the time and his whereabouts.

During Beatty’s arraignment, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran raised a question about whether her lawyer, Mayer Morganroth of Southfield, has a conflict of interest because he also represents Kilpatrick and the city in a lawsuit over the death of stripper Tamara Greene, who was rumored to have danced at a rumored wild party at Manoogian mansion. “There is no conflict at this time,” Morganroth replied, adding that he didn’t see any in the future.

Moran also raised the issue that the entire 36th District Court bench might need to be disqualified from conducting the June 9 preliminary examination because one or two judges may be called as witnesses.

Secret Lovers Indicted

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Hat Tip: By DAVID ASHENFELTER and JOE SWICKARD • DETROIT FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and former chief of staff Christine Beatty were charged today in a 12-county indictment with perjury, obstruction of justice, misconduct in office and conspiracy because of their conduct in last year’s police whistle-blower trial, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced.

Kilpatrick is charged with eight felonies and Beatty with seven. They are: perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office.

Worthy said the perjury charges accuse the two of lying during a whistle-blower lawsuit about the firing of Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown and about their romantic relationship.

Kilpatrick, 38, serving his seventh year in office, is the first Detroit mayor to face criminal charges while still in office. The perjury charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

“Lying cannot be tolerated, even if a judge and jury can see through it and doesn’t buy the line,” Worthy said at a packed news conference.

“Witnesses must give truthful testimony,” she added. “Oaths mean something.”

Right after Worthy’s announcement, the mayor’s office sent out a news release saying he and his attorney will hold a news conference at noon to respond. But at 12:45 p.m., they still had not appeared.

The mayor is expected to be arraigned at 5 p.m. today in 36th District Court in Detroit. It wasn’t clear when Beatty will turn herself in, but she must do so before 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Worthy declined to say whether she thinks the mayor should step down. Beatty resigned on Feb. 8.

During her news conference, Worthy said city lawyers had tried to erect barriers to her investigation, forcing prosecutors to go to court to try to obtain documents. She said investigators are still trying to obtain documents for the investigation, which will continue.

“At every bend and turn, there have been attempts by the city through one lawyer or another to block aspects of our investigation,” Worthy said. “Some documents have been turned over, but we have been told that others have been destroyed or lost. We don’t know when or by whom.”

She said the investigation wasn’t about sex, but about destroying the lives and careers of three good cops.

“Gary Brown’s, Harold Nelthrope’s and Walter Harris’ lives and careers were forever changed,” Worthy said. “They were ruined financially and their reputations were completely destroyed because they chose to be dutiful police officers.”

She added: “Our investigation has clearly shown that public dollars were used, people’s lives were ruined, the justice system severely mocked and the public trust trampled on.”

Worthy said she had discussed the investigation with U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy, but declined to say what they discussed. Murphy declined today to comment on Worthy’s statement. The FBI is monitoring the investigation, according to people familiar with the case.

She said her staff had reviewed more than 40,000 pages of documents and interviewed many witnesses. She said her investigation had led to other possible defendants whom she didn’t identify. Worthy said her team of prosecutors on the case includes Lisa Lindsey, Robert Moran, Athina Siringas, Robert Spada and Timothy Baughman.

Worthy’s investigation began after the Free Press uncovered text messages that showed a romantic relationship between Kilpatrick and Beatty — a relationship both had denied under oath during a police whistle-blower lawsuit last summer. The pair also gave misleading testimony about the firing of Brown, the messages show.

Kilpatrick authorized a settlement in that case to pay the former officers $8.4 million.

Despite the false testimony, a Wayne County Circuit Court jury last September awarded Brown and Nelthrope $6.5 million in damages. Kilpatrick vowed to appeal, but on Oct. 17, abruptly decided to settle the case and a second police whistle-blower suit involving former mayoral bodyguard Walt Harris for $8.4 million – $9 million with legal costs.

Kilpatrick settled after the cops’ lawyer, Mike Stefani, informed the mayor’s lawyer that he had the incriminating text messages and would reveal them in court papers he planned to file to justify his request for legal fees in the whistle-blower case.

Although Kilpatrick apologized for his conduct in a televised appearance with his wife, Carlita, in late January, he has blamed the media for his troubles and rejected calls from the City Council, Attorney General Mike Cox and city union locals to resign.

Settlement documents the Free Press obtained last month through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the city show that – contrary to Kilpatrick’s claim that he decided to settle based on advice from friends, advisers and ordinary citizens – he made peace with the cops after discovering that Stefani had the text messages.

Although Kilpatrick’s lawyers settled the suit with one agreement on Oct. 17, they decided to split it into public and private settlements after the Free Press requested a copy.

The public agreement showed how much the former cops would be paid. The secret agreement, signed by Kilpatrick and Beatty, swore Brown, Nelthrope and Stefani to secrecy about the text messages under threat of forfeiting their settlement proceeds and legal fees.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Robert Colombo Jr. released the secret agreement last month after the Kilpatrick administration repeatedly denied its existence. Colombo released the agreement and other secret settlement records after the administration appealed unsuccessfully to the Michigan Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court, which rejected Kilpatrick’s claim that the documents weren’t public documents.

The City Council, which was kept in the dark about Kilpatrick’s reasons for settling the lawsuit and never saw the confidential side agreement, voted 7-1 last week to pass an advisory resolution calling for the mayor to resign. It also ordered an investigation of the episode and directed its auditor general to look into spending by the mayor’s office and the city Law Department.

Kilpatrick went on television with his wife in late January and apologized for his conduct, he insists there was no cover-up and has blamed the news media for most of his problems. He accused the Free Press of illegally obtaining the text messages – which the newspaper denies– and accusing the media of conducting a public lynching. He said the text messages and the settlement agreement that concealed them should never have been made public.

He also said the text messages were private even though he signed a policy directive in June 2000 advising city employees that all electronic communications should be considered public.

So far, Kilpatrick has refused to step down, saying he is on a divinely-inspired mission to help rebuild the city. But conviction of a felony would force him to resign.

In honor of this momentous occasion, I give you Atlantic Starr singing that old 80’s jam, Secret Lovers.

Spitzer resigns

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Hat Tip: New York Times, By DANNY HAKIM and ANAHAD O’CONNOR

Gov. Eliot Spitzer, reeling from revelations that he had been a client of a prostitution ring, announced his resignation today, becoming the first governor of New York to be forced from office in nearly a century.

Mr. Spitzer, appearing somber and with his wife at his side, said his resignation is to be effective Monday, and that Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson would be sworn in to replace him.

David Paterson

“I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me,” he said. “To every New Yorker, and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize.”

“Over the course of my public life, I have insisted — I believe correctly — that people regardless of their position or power take responsibility for their conduct,” he added. “I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason, I am resigning from the office of governor.”

Mr. Spitzer is the first governor of New York to resign from office since 1973, when Nelson A. Rockefeller stepped down to devote himself to a policy group, and the first to be forced from office since William Sulzer was impeached and removed from his post in 1913 in a scandal over campaign contribution fraud.

In his brief statement at his headquarters in Manhattan, Mr. Spitzer thanked his family for offering support and compassion, and said he had spent the last several days atoning for his personal failings.

Mr. Spitzer ended his speech by saying he would leave politics, and then departed quickly without taking questions.

“As I leave public life, I will first do what I need to do to help and heal myself and my family,” he said. “Then I will try once again, outside of politics, to serve the common good and to move toward the ideals and solutions which I believe can build a future of hope and opportunity for us and for our children.”

Since issuing an initial apology on Monday, Mr. Spitzer had been holed up at his apartment at Fifth Avenue and 79th Street in Manhattan, where his aides said he had been engaged in an intense legal and family debate about whether to resign or, as his wife was urging, to stay on.

Mr. Spitzer emerged finally at about 11:15 a.m. Wednesday with his wife by his side and got into a black S.U.V., which headed for his headquarters on Third Avenue as news helicopters followed above.

On Tuesday, as Mr. Spitzer, a first-term Democrat, contemplated his next move, the New York political world remained in a suspended state, with cries — even from fellow Democrats — growing louder for him to step down.

In one of the last and desperate rounds of the end game, a top Spitzer administration official reached out to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s staff on Tuesday to see if the governor could avoid an impeachment vote. But the prospects were grim.

Republicans had pledged to try to have Mr. Spitzer impeached and only 34 of the more than 100 Democrats in the Assembly would be needed for the matter to be referred to the Senate for an impeachment trial. It was clear during the discussions that 34 or more Democrats were almost certain to vote against the governor.

That outcome would have been a dire for the governor, because his top political rival, Senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno, leads the Senate, where a trial would have been held.

“An impeachment proceeding would force Democrats to either abandon him or defend him,” said one leading Democrat. “They would abandon him.”

Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, said Tuesday that Mr. Spitzer should do “what’s best for his family,” but stopped short of calling on the governor to step down. “It is now up to the governor to make a determination that’s best for his family. I pray for his children.” When asked what Mr. Silver thought was best for the Spitzer family, he did not respond.

Mr. Silver offered a few details of his conversation with Mr. Spitzer on Tuesday afternoon before the governor briefly spoke to the public. “I said to him then and I say it now, he’s got to take care of his family first and be concerned about them. I told him that we will carry on in the legislative process that moves the budget forward. We intend to pass our budget tomorrow. I hope the Senate will do the same.”

Mr. Paterson said on Tuesday that he had not heard from Mr. Spitzer since about noon on Monday, and did not know whether he would soon be sworn in as the state’s 55th governor.

“The governor called me yesterday,” said Mr. Paterson, who was driven to the Capitol on Tuesday and pondered going inside before deciding to avoid the swarm of journalists. “He said he didn’t resign for a number of reasons, and he didn’t go into the reasons, and that’s the last I’ve heard from him.”

Asked whether preparations for a transition were under way, the lieutenant governor said: “No one has talked to me about his resignation, and no one has talked to me about a transition.”

At a televised news conference on Wednesday morning, Mr. Bruno, the Senate majority leader who would become the lieutenant governor if Mr. Paterson replaces Mr. Spitzer, told reporters that he had not spoken with Mr. Spitzer or any of his top aides about the impending resignation.

“No one has contacted me officially,” he said. “We are following the reports as you are. But in the meantime, I am staying with our plan to pass a budget, talk to the speaker, and we’re going to go public in a real way on Monday.”

Mr. Bruno, a Republican who clashed frequently with Mr. Spitzer, said he was praying for the governor and his family and urged all New Yorkers to do so as well.

On Tuesday, Mr. Spitzer cut himself off from all but the most senior members of his staff. His lawyer, Michele Hirschman, was reaching out to federal prosecutors to try to strike a deal in hopes of avoiding charges.

Close aides to the governor suggested on Tuesday that the mood in the Spitzer home was tense, with the governor’s wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, recommending that he not step down, but they cautioned that the situation could change at any time.

The revelation of Mr. Spitzer’s involvement with the high-end prostitution ring gripped the nation, and more than 70 reporters and photographers clustered outside the governor’s Upper East Side high-rise on Tuesday, separated from the building by a metal barricade erected by the police.

Three helicopters whirred overhead as tourists atop passing double-decker buses snapped pictures of the scene.

Mr. Spitzer’s patronage of the prostitution agency, Emperor’s Club V.I.P., came to light after prosecutors charged four people with operating the service. They said the governor was intercepted on a federal wiretap arranging payments and an encounter with a prostitute in a Washington hotel room last month. The affidavit referred to a Client 9 and did not identify Mr. Spitzer by name, but law enforcement officials said that Client 9 was the governor.

Investigators reviewing the scope of Mr. Spitzer’s involvement with prostitutes said on Tuesday that just in the past year he had had more than a half-dozen meetings with them and had paid tens of thousands of dollars to the ring, one law enforcement official said.

A person with knowledge of the service’s operations said that Mr. Spitzer had begun meeting with the prostitutes of the Emperor’s Club about eight months ago and had had encounters in Dallas as well as Washington.

A law enforcement official said Mr. Spitzer also had an encounter with a prostitute in Florida. On some trips of several days’ duration, Mr. Spitzer scheduled more than one visit with a prostitute, this person said.

Paterson waits in the wings to become NY Governor

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Destroyed by hubris and drowning in a tsunami of hypocrisy, the political career and power so craved by Eliot Spitzer slips away into the ether never to be seen again. Into the den of lions steps David Paterson, New York State’s Lieutenant Governor and the first African American and first blind man to hold that position.

On the eve of his inauguration as New York State’s 55th Governor, David Paterson should consider the blueprint of his tri-state neighbor, M. Jodi Rell, Governor of Connecticut. Mrs. Rell was the longtime and longsuffering sidekick to the corrupt Republican megalomaniac, John Rowland, a three term governor. He went to prison having taken kickbacks from contractors doing business with the state.

Mrs. Rell moved quickly and decisively to distance herself from the former governor by endorsing an ethics package of reforms that banned campaign contributions from lobbyists and provided public financing for campaigns. Paterson, if he is smart, will do the same. Governor Spitzer championed limited ethics reform legislation. The crisis will allow Patterson to go much further.

Mrs. Rell established her integrity from the jump, and she gave excellent inaugural and state of the state addresses that branded her as an honest leader worthy of the people’s trust. Moreover, she extended her hand to the other party in a gesture of bipartisanship that won kudos from all. Her approval ratings are the highest on record for a Connecticut governor and she was re-elected in 2006 by a landslide majority.

Paterson, a former State Senator for two decades and Minority Leader of the New York State Senate, is no lightweight. A scion of a political family, his father, Basil Paterson, was a former New York Secretary of State and his son’s predecessor in the New York State Senate. He is well qualified to assume power. Nevertheless, it won’t stop his successor as Lt. Governor, Republican Joe Bruno and a host of others: Mike Bloomberg, Rudy Giuliani, and Andrew Cuomo from trying to knock over a blind man and take his throne.

The Republicans smell blood and are in a feeding frenzy as they consume the carcass of Eliot Spitzer like Sharks on chum. Once he is completely devoured, they’ll start in on Patterson. If Paterson doesn’t move decisively to assert his power and control, he’ll meet the same fate.

One way he could stake out some independence is by abandoning his support of Hillary Clinton. Surely he understands that if he wishes to seek re-election, he must do so with the unanimous support of African Americans. One way to reach blackfolks is by cutting the Empress of Triangulation loose in favor of the man who will be King.

As of this posting, word still hadn’t come from the Governor about a decision regarding resignation. Paterson should use my favorite Jamie Foxx line in “RAY.” Responding to his angry mistress who demanded that he leave his wife for her, Ray says, “You knew what it was before you got into it.” If Paterson still don’t get the answer he wants to hear, he should do as Ray did when a promoter tried to short him on his money: come across the table and whoop dat azz.

Man up. Issue a statement calling for him to resign and take what’s yours. He was man enough to leave the state in your hands to do his ho in peace, why can’t he leave for good, now?