DETROIT – Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said Aug. 16 he derailed his mother’s 2010 congressional re-election campaign and apologized, telling a group of journalists he was “guilty as sin,” for the email scandal that led to his 2008 resignation from the city’s helm.
In a wide-ranging interview with the local chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, Kilpatrick also criticized current Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, supporting his leading White opponent in the 2013 mayoral race.
Kilpatrick resigned in 2008 and was jailed on obstruction of justice charges related to a text-message scandal that showed he lied under oath about an affair with Christine Beatty, his former chief of staff.
Kilpatrick said while he is "guilty as sin,” he views the upcoming federal prosecution as a "witch trial." He said he can’t get a fair trial in the city.
"I'd be better off if you just take me down and hang me from that fist downtown," Kilpatrick told reporters, referring to a sculpture of a massive fist thrusting out of the ground in front of the arena named after Black boxing icon Joe Louis.
He said that federal juries are not diverse enough. He and his lawyers are challenging the process of jury selection for a trial in federal court in Detroit on public corruption charges. The trial is scheduled to begin in September.
"Was I corrupt? Absolutely not,” he said, defending himself against other allegations against him. “Did I steal? Absolutely not."
In criticizing Bing, Kilpatrick also voiced his support for would-be challenger Mike Duggan, a White health care executive in Detroit.
Attendance at the Kilpatrick appearance was limited to NABJ members only and, as a result, there as a flurry of new members, including White journalists.
“We signed up close to 30 new members and about half were white,” said Vickie Thomas, WWJ Radio reporter and president of the Detroit NABJ chapter, which organized the event.
Thomas said that although she was initially concerned about “the dynamics” between reporters and Kilpatrick, who has resisted media scrutiny, the interview went “extremely well.”
What remains to be seen, is how active the last-minute new members will be in future chapter activities, when Kilpatrick will not be the draw.
“We have about 60 or 70 members but the most we get at meetings is about 30 and that’s if we have good speakers,” Thomas said.
“I told them at the end of the interview (with Kilpatrick) that I hoped to see them all at our chapter meeting next month.” She commented that the reporters were all were too busying scrambling to get a word with Kilpatrick before he left to hear what she had said.
Linda Jones is a Detroit-based journalist.