The Kilpatrick rules: The former mayor is treated differently - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

The Kilpatrick rules: The former mayor is treated differently -- and he should be grateful for that

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  • Kwame Kilpatrick forced to wear tether during parole investigation

    Kwame Kilpatrick forced to wear tether during parole investigation

    Thursday, January 10 2013 11:31 PM EST2013-01-11 04:31:37 GMT
    Kwame Kilpatrick was caught on camera at a Walmart receiving a $2,000 wire transfer.  It's a transaction he failed to report to his parole officer.  Now Detroit's ex-mayor is essentially under house arrest.
    Kwame Kilpatrick was caught on surveillance at a Macomb County Walmart receiving a $2,000 wire transfer.  It's a transaction he failed to report to his parole officer.  Now Detroit's ex-mayor is essentially under house arrest.

If you're wondering how messed up Kwame Kilpatrick's life is, this next sentence pretty much says it all: Kwame Kilpatrick could learn a lot from Charlie Sheen.

My report this week exposing a $2,000 wire transfer that the former mayor failed to report to his parole agent -- an omission that could send him back to prison -- put ?Kilpatrick's "woe is me" routine back on the main stage.

When I asked him if he was worried about going back to prison, he responded: "I'm Kwame Kilpatrick and this is Michigan and Detroit and the rules are different for me.  So it's definitely something that I want to make sure that we stay on the right side, which we are."

Let's forget for a moment that voters from Michigan, and Detroit specifically, have supported Kilpatrick, his mother, his father, and, through city and county contracts and contractors and the family's bogus charity and non-profits, his wife, his sister, his half-sister, his step-mother and her son for more than 30 years.

Instead, let's focus on three things:

First, of the many lies Kilpatrick has told us, "I'm sorry" is the biggest.

(If he is sorry, it's not for what he did. He's sorry his actions have subjected him to consequences.)

Second, he does not feel that the rules that apply to the rest of us are applicable to him.

(In fact, he doesn't even feel bound by the rules crafted SPECIFICALLY for him by judges and state corrections officials.)

Third, he IS treated differently.

(And instead of complaining, he should be thanking his lucky stars.) All of this brings to mind Charlie Sheen who, like Kilpatrick, was once the toast of his town. As the star of the long-running, top-rated television comedy "Two and a Half Men," Sheen was raking in the dough and feted wherever he went. Even his personal foibles -- trouble with women and substances -- were, if not exactly celebrated, at least tolerated.

He parlayed his reputation as a lascivious, lovable scoundrel into a contract that paid him millions per episode. It could have gone on indefinitely, if not for his hubris.

As Kilpatrick has said of himself, his character was no match for his talent.

Sheen overplayed his hand by openly feuding with his show's creator and anyone who raised an eyebrow at his drug use and hedonistic living arrangement with a nanny and a porn star -- whom he referred to as "the Goddesses."

In interviews that have become infamous, he mocked anyone who suggested he was on the road to destruction, saying they would fade away while he would "be over here winning."

After his ouster from his show, he embarked on a series of live appearances that I'm noting here not because they were successful, but because they were more successful than the sporadic speaking engagements and book signings that Kilpatrick embarked on after his release from prison.

The difference here is that, as he finally felt the gravitational pull of the death spiral, Sheen tried to clean up his life.

I wouldn't be so naive to suggest he's reformed, but he has a much lower-key persona and a new show. I don't catch every tidbit out of Hollywood, but I haven't heard of him thumbing his nose at the people who made him rich or mentioning "winning" in quite some time.

Again, I'm not so naive to suggest that Kilpatrick should, let alone will, adopt a more humble persona.

Facing racketeering and public corruption charges based, in part, on the fact that he accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of suits, he comes to court dressed to the nines on a daily basis. His only concession to casual Friday is the black velvet blazer he has worn several times.

But it's well past high time that Kilpatrick recognize that the different rules that apply to him come with privileges the rest of us can only dream of.


Even though Kilpatrick was forced to resign as mayor in disgrace, local business impresarios Peter Karmanos, Roger Penske, Dan Gilbert and Jim Nicholson "loaned" him $240,000. Ambassador Bridge owner, derelict building owner extraordinaire and trucking magnate Manuel "Matty" Moroun gave Kilpatrick's wife, Carlita, $50,000.

Since abandoning Detroit, Kilpatrick's wife and sons have lived in two homes outside Dallas, both of which were bigger and grander than the city-owned Manoogian Mansion, where they lived rent-free from 2003 to his resignation in late 2008. No one outside the family and, presumably, their landlords know who is paying the rent.

After serving 99 days of the four-month jail sentence he accepted to end the criminal case stemming from the text message scandal, Kilpatrick landed a job with a Compuware subsidiary to sell computer software. The gig came with a sizable advance against future earnings, a guaranteed $120,000-a-year salary and a chance to earn hundreds of thousands more in commissions -- even though his only previous sales experience was selling Detroiters a bill of goods.

The approximately $1 million in expenses generated by the legal dream team that defended Kilpatrick against felony perjury and obstruction of justice charges stemming from the text message scandal was covered by depleting his campaign fund. Unfortunately for Detroiters, who the former mayor owed $1 million in restitution, no one in authority tried to seize that loot before Kilpatrick spent it.

Living large but claiming poverty, Kilpatrick landed a court-appointed legal team that is one of the best in Detroit.

Until my friends Mike Wilkinson and Robert Snell at the Detroit News exposed the deal, Kilpatrick was staying for free at the upscale Atheneum Hotel in Greektown.

Finally, until corrections officials imposed a virtual house arrest Thursday for Kilpatrick's failure to report the $2,000 he got from a Chicago pastor, he shuttled between Detroit and Dallas on Buddy Passes that provided him deeply discounted travel on Delta airlines.

So, yes, Kwame Kilpatrick is treated differently -- and he should hit his knees every night thanking God for that.

Follow M.L. Elrick's coverage of the Kilpatrick & Co. trial daily on FOX 2 and at

Contact him at or via Twitter (@elrick) or Facebook. And catch him every Friday morning around 7:15 a.m. on Drew & Mike on WRIF, 101.1 FM. He is co-author of "The Kwame Sutra:

 Musings on Lust, Life and Leadership from Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick," available at A portion of sales benefit the Eagle Sports Club and Soar Tutoring. Learn more at

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