Yolanda King’s Homegoing services Thursday

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ATLANTA SERVICES:

Thursday, May 24th at 12:00 noon
Ebenezer Baptist Church
407 Auburn Avenue NE
Atlanta, GA 30312
Phone: 404-688-7300

Send Flowers to:
The King Center
449 Auburn Avenue NE
Atlanta, GA 30312-9817
Phone: 404-526-8900

Hotel Accommodations Under
Yolanda King Memorial, $69/night:
Hyatt Regency Atlanta
65 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: 404-577-1234

 

LOS ANGELES SERVICES:

Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 7:00pm
Faithful Central Bible Church
The Tabernacle
321 N. Eucalyptus Avenue

Inglewood, CA 90301

Send Flowers to:
Faithful Central Bible Church Office
333 West Florence Avenue
Inglewood, CA 90301
Phone: 310-330-8000

Hotel Accommodations Under
Yolanda King Memorial:

Radisson Hotel Los Angeles Airport
6225 West Century Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Phone: 310-670-7852

Sheraton Gateway Hotel Los Angeles Airport $99 / night Wed-Sun
6101 West Century Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Phone: 310-642-1111

 

Atlanta Mayor’s daughter, Kai Franklin, caught up in drug prosecution

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Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 05/23/07

Federal agents are investigating whether a daughter of Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin helped launder money for her former husband’s transcontinental drug trafficking ring.

Kai Franklin, 34, handled tens of thousands of dollars from cocaine sales in 2004 and 2005, according to court records and testimony last month in South Carolina.

Franklin twice received bags of drug money — one containing $25,000, the other $20,000 — at the direction of her former husband, Tremayne Graham, one of his co-defendants testified. In addition, another defendant said, Franklin received portions of $150,000 in drug money invested in an airport concessions company run by her father, the mayor’s former husband.

The allegations surfaced at an April 17 hearing in U.S. District Court in Greenville, S.C., at which a judge sentenced Graham to life in prison. Graham, 33, admitted his role in shipping at least 1,000 kilograms of Mexican cocaine from Los Angeles to Atlanta and South Carolina.

Federal agents said in court that they have established a paper trail of cash transfers from Graham to Franklin in the seven months that he was a fugitive from drug charges.

Franklin divorced Graham in 2005. Efforts to reach her in recent days were unsuccessful. Her lawyer, James Dearing, said she would have no comment.

Authorities have filed no charges against Franklin, nor have they presented all the evidence that might incriminate her. Much of the testimony concerning her came from defendants in the drug case, who cooperated with investigators in exchange for lighter sentences.

But the sentencing transcript and other court documents reveal the extent to which Franklin is implicated in the drug case.

An Internal Revenue Service agent testified that both the IRS and the U.S. attorney in South Carolina are investigating Kai Franklin for alleged money laundering.

And Mark Moore, an assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Graham, gave a judge a broad outline of Franklin’s possible involvement:

“Her husband is a fugitive. OK? She knows where he is. She isn’t telling law enforcement where he is. And, in fact, what she is doing is taking dope money from him while she knows he is a fugitive. … Taking money from a drug dealer that you know or suspect to be drug proceeds is money laundering.”

Federal officials said this week they could not comment on the status of the investigation.

Prosecutors alleged that Graham lied when he told federal agents that Franklin was not involved in his drug business — partly to protect her, but also to minimize his own culpability.

Moore told a judge that Franklin “may have very critical information” about Graham’s connections to the killings of another defendant and that man’s girlfriend in Atlanta three years ago. Prosecutors allege Graham ordered the killings of Ulysses Hackett III and Misty Denise Carter. No one has been charged in the double homicide.

A co-defendant testified that Graham told him shortly after the killing that he planned to move into the mayor’s house to deflect suspicion from himself by making it appear he feared for his life.

Aides to the mayor would not answer questions about whether Graham actually went to her house or, if he did, for how long or if his wife accompanied him.

The mayor would not discuss the case in detail.

“I ran for mayor — none of my children did,” she said last week. “They are subject [to] the law, as they should be. They are expected to live their lives accordingly.”

In court last month, one of Graham’s lawyers said some of the money Graham sent Kai Franklin came from gambling winnings. The lawyer, Jessica Salvini, acknowledged Graham had told federal agents that his wife had seen him with as much as $60,000 or $70,000 in cash. But Salvini said Graham had not told Franklin he was a drug dealer.

Federal authorities allege that Graham was a key member of a drug ring called the Sin City Mafia. Authorities also allege that the money Graham sent Franklin came from his drug business, and that she had to have known that.

Franklin and Graham remained in regular contact, even after he skipped bond and she filed for divorce, citing abandonment, according to testimony at his sentencing hearing. Two of Graham’s co-defendants testified that he sent drug money to Franklin while he was a fugitive.

Eric Rivera, who received a 40-month sentence, testified that Graham told him to take $25,000 in cash to his Cobb County house, where Franklin was then living alone. Graham gave him a security code to enter the residence, Rivera testified, and he left the cash on the stairs.

Another time, Rivera said, he put $20,000 of drug money in a duffel bag at Graham’s instruction and waited outside his Atlanta hotel for Kai Franklin. When she arrived, he testified, he put the money in the back seat of her Lincoln Navigator and she drove away.

Graham allegedly funneled more money to Franklin through her father’s airport concessions business.

Scott King, who was Graham’s partner in the drug business, testified that Graham invested $150,000 of their money in David Franklin’s Atlanta-based company, Franklin and Wilson Airport Concessions Inc.

King, who has been sentenced to 24 years in prison, said he expected to regularly receive checks from Franklin and Wilson, giving the impression that he had legitimate income. Instead, he testified, the company sent a check each month only to Kai Franklin.

Prosecutors did not establish in court when the alleged payments were made or how much of the $150,000 ended up with Kai Franklin.

David Franklin said Tuesday the investment “never happened. I wouldn’t let strangers put any money in.”

Franklin’s company operates three retail outlets at the city-owned Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The firm’s contracts are approved by the City Council, but the mayor has said she played no role in selecting the company. The couple divorced in 1986.

Kai Franklin made no mention of payments from her father’s company when she filed for bankruptcy in March 2005.

In court papers, she said her only income was $2,000 a month in unspecified “family contributions.”

She listed debts of more than $300,000, not counting the mortgage on a house in Cobb County. She said she had just $1,250 in the bank, $250 in cash and jewelry worth $10,000.

Witnesses at her former husband’s sentencing contradicted her claims, however.

King said Franklin routinely sent bills to Graham while he was a fugitive. Graham, King said, paid them through postal money orders. IRS Agent Wayne Wright testified that federal agents obtained about 60 such money orders that paid credit card and mortgage bills for Graham and Franklin. Wright said Franklin bought the money orders in a “structured fashion.”

“There were multiple money orders that were purchased either at multiple post offices in Atlanta on the same day or … in the same post office on the same day at different lines,” Wright testified.

He said each money order was issued for less than $3,000. That amount triggers federal reporting requirements intended to detect illicit transactions.

The “structuring,” Wright said, “could be an offense in and of itself. … It’s also an indicator of money laundering.”

Franklin used money from Graham to make payments on two Porsche sports utility vehicles while he was a fugitive, witnesses said.

Both cars ended up in the hands of a Detroit-based drug gang, the Black Mafia Family, court records show. Prosecutors said the gang had invested in a luxury auto dealership, 404 Motorsports, that Graham ran on Cheshire Bridge Road.

Moore, the prosecutor, asked Wright, the IRS agent: “Would it be hard for [Franklin] to deny that perhaps she was aware that the source of the money was drug dealing when, at that point, her husband was indicted for drug dealing and was a fugitive from law enforcement?”

Wright answered, “That is correct.”

Majority of CBC sells out to Fox Noise Channel

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May 23, 2007
Twenty-six members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have signed letters to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) urging them to reconsider their decisions to skip a debate cosponsored by the CBC Institute and Fox News.

 

Last month, under pressure from liberal activists, Obama, Clinton and Edwards, the front-runners in the Democratic presidential primary, announced that they would skip the debate scheduled for September because they consider Fox biased against Democrats.

Obama in particular has had a rocky relationship with Fox. His campaign froze out the conservative-leaning news network for a few weeks after it erroneously reported that Obama had received schooling at a radical madrassa — a Muslim school — during his youth in Indonesia.

Members of the Black Caucus say that by skipping the Fox debate, Obama and other candidates risk missing a chance to share their views on issues important to minority voters that are often given short shrift at other debates.
“Reconsider,” said CBC Institute Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), summing up the letter to Democratic presidential candidates. “Basically, it would be in your best interests to talk to the communities we represent.”

Black Caucus leaders sent the letter to the entire field of Democratic presidential candidates, but the primary targets were Obama, Clinton and Edwards.

The caucus has 43 members from 22 states, who together represent about 40 million Americans, an official with the group said. Seventeen members of the Black Caucus represent districts that are less than 50 percent African-American, said caucus Chairwoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), who argued that the issues at the debate will also be of interest to other minority constituencies, such as Hispanics.

“It’s not just a black thing,” Kilpatrick said.

Thompson said presidential debates often ignore issues that are important to minority voters.

“Nobody is talking about the disproportionate statistics that we have in this country as it relates to minority population,” Thompson said. “You can look at healthcare, you can look at education, you can look at employment, you can look at housing, you can look at lending. All those [statistics] show a very bad picture for many constituents we represent.

“So we think Democratic and Republican candidates alike should have an opportunity to say what they plan to [do to] level the playing field,” he added.

By framing their decision to skip the debate as a missed opportunity to communicate to an important Democratic constituency, caucus leaders are ratcheting up the political pressure on the Democratic front-runners.

Thompson said that the CBC Institute, not Fox, would set the debate format and select the questions to be asked. He said Fox merely will broadcast the event.

So far, liberal opinion leaders have praised the Democrats’ decision to snub Fox.

Left-leaning columnist E.J. Dionne wrote last month that Democrats were well within their rights.

“Tell me again: Why do Democrats have an obligation to participate in debates on Fox?” Dionne wrote. “I am an avid reader of conservative magazines such as National Review and the Weekly Standard. But if these two publications teamed up to sponsor a Democratic debate, would anyone accuse Edwards, Obama and Clinton of ‘blacklisting’ if the candidates said, ‘no thanks’?”

The pressure may be particularly acute for Obama, who is a member of the Black Caucus. Obama has irked fellow CBC members by failing to respond to a request made early last year that he host a fundraiser for the Black Caucus’s political action committee (PAC). Clinton received a similar invitation and quickly followed through by headlining a CBC PAC fundraiser in March of 2006.

If Obama were to change his mind and attend the debate, it would put pressure on Edwards and Clinton to follow suit. Otherwise, it might look as though they were snubbing African-American voters, an important bloc of the Democratic electorate. For instance, in South Carolina, which will hold the country’s second presidential primary, black voters are expected to make up nearly half of Democratic voters.

The 26 Black Caucus members who signed the letter wrote that they strongly support the debate sponsored by the CBC Institute and Fox. The signatories emphasized that the Black Caucus is separate and distinct from the CBC Institute, but their very action also illustrated the close affinity between the two groups. Four caucus members sit on the institute’s board: Thompson, Kilpatrick, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.).

Thompson and Kilpatrick noted that when the CBC Institute asked cable news networks to air presidential debates it hosted in 2003, only Fox responded. They said the debates drew impressive ratings.

Thompson said loyalty is a factor in the CBC Institute’s decision to stick with Fox. In total, the institute plans to host four presidential debates, two for Democratic candidates and two for Republican candidates. Fox and CNN will split the broadcasting evenly.

“Given the importance that African-Americans and others hear from you on your position on critical issues that affect their lives and the country, we urge your participation,” a Democratic source who described the letter’s conclusion said.

But the debate is not without controversy in the black political community.

“I think what we have are candidates who understand that Fox is a propaganda outlet and not an appropriate place for political discourse to be treated as news,” said James Rucker, the executive director of ColorOfChange.org, who applauded Obama, Clinton and Edwards for skipping the debate. ColorOfChange.org describes itself as an online community of 90,000 Americans dedicated to amplifying the voice of Black America.

Michelle Obama’s balancing act goes national

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It was a triumphant moment for Barack Obama: He was walking through the Capitol for the very first time as a United States senator in January 2005, trailed by photographers, hangers-on, and finally, his amused wife. Rolling her eyes as she pulled a reporter aside, Michelle Obama said, “Maybe one day, he will do something to warrant all this attention.”

Two years and one presidential announcement later, the sarcasm is gone, and a woman who has said she dislikes politics is assuming a starring role in her husband’s campaign for the White House.

Last week, in Windham, N.H., Mrs. Obama charmed a houseful of Democratic voters, speaking of her romance with the candidate and kneeling next to two little boys and their sister to inquire, “Which one of you is the troublemaker?”

She was still a bit irreverent: “I’m sure this guy is weird,” she said, describing her initial reaction to her husband’s name. But she turned earnest when talking of the presidency. “I know Barack is something special,” she said. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”

Mrs. Obama’s is the trickiest of political performances. She is a black woman in a campaign in which no one knows quite what role race or gender will play. She has a propensity for bluntness and a fierce competitive drive. (“She’s a little meaner than I am,” her husband jokes.)

Her counterparts include Bill Clinton, the former president and consummate campaigner hoping to become the First Gent; and Elizabeth Edwards, who has been praised across the political spectrum for her tenacity in dealing with incurable cancer.

Even successful first lady auditions can be remembered as political don’ts: take Nancy Reagan (regarded as too adoring of her husband) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (too eager to share his job), to say nothing of spouses of losing candidates, like Judith Steinberg Dean (too absent) and Teresa Heinz Kerry (too outspoken).

Faced with those discouraging precedents, Mrs. Obama, 43, is trying a fresh approach: running as everywoman, a wife, professional, mother, volunteer.

While her husband’s story is singular — how many other Hawaiian-Indonesian-African-Midwestern sensations are there? — Mrs. Obama is his more down-to-earth counterpart, drawing parallels between the voters’ daily balancing acts and her own. The role suits her natural frankness — she has gone so far as to talk about how she had to cope with an overflowing toilet — and yet confines it safely to the domestic sphere.

In an interview, Mrs. Obama said that she is still unprepared to take on the role for which she is trying out.

“My God, who can sit here and say, ‘I’m ready to be president and first lady?’ ” she asked. But like her husband, she is running on biography, suggesting that her most important qualifications are her life experiences. Daughter of a Chicago city pump operator who had multiple sclerosis, she graduated from Princeton and Harvard and juggles her job as a hospital executive with motherhood and civic work.

Mrs. Obama dislikes politics, friends and family confirmed, but not as much as she dislikes losing. Craig Robinson, her brother and the Brown University men’s basketball coach, said his sister did not enjoy organized sports when she was younger because she so hated defeat and even now pouts when a board game does not go her way. His sister is brainy and warm, he said, but also a force to be reckoned with.

“Everyone in the family is afraid of her,” he said with a smile. Asked if Mr. Obama used a nicotine patch to quit smoking, Mr. Robinson cracked up. “Michelle Obama!” he said. “That’s one hell of a patch right there!”

Accordingly, she threw herself into her husband’s campaign from the start, asking to meet with aides running every aspect of it. Friends says she is decisive and pragmatic, perhaps more so than the candidate.

At a meeting last October, when some advisers were impressing upon Mr. Obama the importance of discipline and telling him he could not rely on oratorical talents alone in a national campaign, he began offering explanations. One participant recalled that Mrs. Obama cut him off, saying, “We’re talking about you right now.” He did not say another word.

Now she is traveling as much as three days a week, headlining events and becoming an attraction in her own right. Aides say that she will not make policy speeches or attack other candidates, and Mrs. Obama says that she makes a sharp distinction between her role and that of the campaign staff.

For instance, after the first Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina in April, she walked on stage and gave her husband a big hug. But she did not offer a critique of his performance because, she said, she wants to keep her marriage “sort of stress-free, free of the discussion, free of the analysis, free of the assessment.”

Instead, she serves as roaming ambassador. For African-American audiences, Mrs. Obama is one of their own, with a more familiar background than that of her husband. At a black church in Cincinnati last week, the audience mmm-hmmm-ed approval throughout her speech.

To female audiences, Mrs. Obama emphasizes her struggle to balance travel, work meetings and homework detail. Last Monday, for instance, Mrs. Obama zoomed out of bed, to the airport, onto a flight to New Hampshire, through two campaign events and a McDonald’s drive-through, then back to the Midwest and into her two daughters’ waiting arms.

“I wake up every morning wondering how on the earth I am going to pull off that next minor miracle of getting through the day,” she said at a “Women for Obama” event last month in Chicago.

Most politicians draw a curtain of privacy around their families. Mrs. Obama takes voters into daily life in her Chicago kitchen (where Mr. Obama sometimes fails to put the butter away, she says), and even, with an anecdote about an overflowing toilet, her bathroom.

Such patter draws a contrast with the lives of other presidential contenders, including those of John Edwards, who lives in a 28,000-square-foot mansion; Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor whose remarriage has strained his relations with his children; and Mrs. Clinton, with her past marital trials.

“I think that that sort of statement is all about the Clintons, and it’s also designed to resonate with middle-income Americans who have quote unquote normal marriages in which the spouse at home calls the other and asks to bring home a bag of salad,” said Nancy Beck Young, a history professor who has made a study of first ladies and will teach at the University of Houston this fall.

Mrs. Obama is learning political wife speak: She claims, for example, she has not thought very much about what kind of first lady Mrs. Clinton was. She still shows flashes of frankness, especially about the cost of Mr. Obama’s political career.

The couple once pledged to give their daughters — Malia, now 8, and Sasha, 5 — the kind of dinner-together-every-night childhood that Mrs. Obama had growing up in Chicago. Now, the senator is mostly on the road or in Washington.

Although Mrs. Obama describes her husband as a loving father, she worries about the actual amount of fathering he is doing. Mr. Obama has acknowledged in his book that his absences caused tensions when the girls were younger. And his wife initially resisted his presidential ambitions, fearing the impact on their family life.

“Barack and Michelle thought long and hard about this decision before they made it,” said Valerie Jarrett, a family friend.

Even before the presidential race, life was a whirl of how-does-she-do-it multitasking for Mrs. Obama, with 4:30 a.m. treadmill sessions and meals prepared at lightning speed. “She’s kind of low on the Martha Stewart scale,” said Verna Williams, a longtime friend, “more like Rachael Ray, get it done in 30 minutes.” To help out, Mrs. Obama’s mother will retire this summer from her job as a bank secretary and care for the girls more frequently.

The Obamas began their careers as equals, and Mr. Obama is fond of saying that his wife has the skills, if not the experience or patience, to run for office. But now she is ceding her career to his, reducing her time at the hospital to a 20 percent commitment (and her paycheck to $42,436 from $212,180), though she remains on the board of TreeHouse Foods, a supplier of Wal-Mart.

She expresses no regret about scaling down her job at the hospital, where colleagues say she excels at tackling thorny problems. But this winter, after spotting a book on the Obamas’ coffee table celebrating Mr. Obama’s Senate victory, her staff created a matching volume of her accomplishments. Mrs. Obama wept when she saw it.

At campaign appearances, Mrs. Obama gets approving reviews. “People do judge a candidate by his wife — or her husband,” said Lynne Snierson, a marketing executive who has watched countless candidates trudge through New Hampshire.

When Mrs. Obama mentioned her daughters at an event in New Hampshire, one woman cooed about “bringing laughter back to the White House,” while two retirees whispered that she was the picture of “everyday elegance” in her red sweater set and smooth flip of a hairstyle.

It was the same perfectly calibrated look reflected in a recent cover of Ebony magazine. Seeking to make the couple look as presidential as possible, Harriette Cole, the magazine’s creative director, said stylists at the photo shoot offered Mrs. Obama a strand of West Wing-appropriate pearls.

She had already brought her own.