The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Rogue Detroit Democrats Stand Trial

Kwame Kilpatrick, the disgraced former mayor of Detroit, has already served time for obstruction of justice and parole violations, but he may be making another, longer, pit stop in the pokey, this time for even graver crimes. The Wall Street Journal reports that federal prosecutors following a multi-year investigation allege that the squalid Kilpatrick and his heartless associates accepted gifts from a firm that received a major investment from Detroit’s pension funds. In one particularly incriminating incident, a Kilpatrick ally may have cost the city pension $84 million in bribes and kickbacks, and this is only the tip of the iceberg.

As with all stories involving Kilpatrick, the details are rather juicy:

The SEC complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, alleges MayfieldGentry, named as a defendant in the case, funded lavish, non-business-related trips to Las Vegas, which included high-end hotel rooms, concerts, meals, massages and rounds of golf. Another trip on a private jet took the mayor and his entourage to Tallahassee, Fla., where Mr. Kilpatrick had a second home.

At the time, MayfieldGentry Chief Executive Chauncey Mayfield recommended to the trustees that the pension funds invest about $117 million in a real-estate investment trust controlled by the company, according to regulators. The funds approved the investment, netting MayfieldGentry millions of dollars in fees, court papers say.

Regulators argued in court papers that the pension funds’ boards of trustees didn’t know about the trips before they approved the investment with Mr. Mayfield and his firm.

Many in snakebit Detroit will see this latest round of scandal and bad publicity as just another black eye for a city’s that’s already been beaten down far enough, but in reality, this is a good news story. That Detroit has been run for decades by incompetents and thieves is patently obvious to any ten year old child with an enquiring mind; what’s new and different is that, finally, the good guys are moving in for the kill.

It’s sad but true that at this point, the more Detroit politicians are indicted and sent up the river, the brighter the city’s future begins to look. In a better world, the Reverend Al Sharpton would be leading hunger strikes and demonstrations outside the Justice Department demanding a relentless, no-holds-barred investigation of the urban political machines that are leeching the life out of American inner cities and blighting the life prospects of young African Americans a generation at a time. Detroit has been mugged by its political class, and it will take more prosecutions and more long jail terms to drive the foxes out of the hen house and make room for a new, more honest group of politicians to take their place.

While these thieves and middle aged roués gamble, whore and loot, generations of poor kids don’t get educated, jobs don’t get created, municipal services decay and damaging racial stereotypes get stamped in weak minds.

Sending Kilpatrick, his cronies and those who do what he does up the river is a civil rights issue — maybe the civil rights issue of our time. Unless these criminal enterprises masquerading as political organizations are broken up and the culture of corruption purged, America’s racial wounds will not be free to heal.

Published on May 10, 2012 2:15 pm
  • Kenny

    Unless these criminal enterprises masquerading as political organizations are broken up and the culture of corruption purged, America’s racial wounds will not be free to heal.”

    Well said. But let’s be real. The Democratic Party is itself the main criminal enterprise in the U.S. Fact.

  • Anthony

    And so it goes…

    Kilpatrick and Detroit’s racial identities may or may not be relevant to violation of both public trust and crimes commited; however for anyone prone to seeking distinctions premised on race, ethnic fallibility exposed in Quick Take may provide distracted satisfaction. Yet clientelism remains systemic problem and giving it a racial cast inter alia can divert attention from common problem – venal, corrupt, and accepted behavior in our politics.

  • JKB

    Where does the “rogue” part come in?

    “That Detroit has been run for decades by incompetents and thieves is patently obvious to any ten year old child with an enquiring mind…”

    This is all to common for Detroit, especially Detroit Democrats. Well, actually, Democrats about anywhere.

    To be fair, municipal Republicans are only slightly better, probably only at hiding their corruption.

  • Corlyss

    Federal juries usually trend much tougher on defendants than state juries are, but the true test will be whether the jury nullifies the charges.

  • PBC

    The rogue Democrats go beyond the Detroit borders. Detroit’s part of Wayne County and the same bloodletting is happening in the longtime county executive’s office. Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano and his cronies are up to their eyeballs in scandals. One of his aides took over as CEO of Detroit Metro airport. In appreciation of her public service, Ficano gave her a nice check for $200,000. Stolen of course from the most impoverished county in America. This is only the beginning. Stay tuned.

  • vanderleun

    “In a better world, the Reverend Al Sharpton would be leading hunger strikes and demonstrations outside the Justice Department…”

    No, it a better world Sharpton would be serving several consecutive terms in prison for the corruption and bribery linked to his own New York city machine.

    And as for “a new, more honest group of politicians to take their place…” Sorry, they’re going be dredged up from the same sewer. They won’t take as much since there isn’t as much to take. This is not the corruption of a specfic “generation” of politicians. This is now not corruption at all, but “tradition.”

  • http://Thepencilofnature.net Lorenz Gude

    “middle aged roués” – Land ‘o Goshen, Brother Mead, that is a fine turn of phrase.