DETROIT (WXYZ) - Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said he is a new man and has been transformed since he left office in disgrace four years ago. But is he really?
7 Action News Investigator Bill Proctor was at the St. Regis Hotel in downtown Detroit on Thursday, where Kilpatrick took questions at the monthly meeting for the Detroit chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).
Kilpatrick told dozens of reporters, who were not allowed to bring video cameras, he has become the family man he failed to be when in office and that he is done with politics. But as he admitted guilt for his fall, he also placed blame on others for all that has come to pass.
“I do appreciate the opportunity. I’m looking forward to the dialogue and the questions,” said Kilpatrick.
He promised to speak candidly.
“I know many of you think I’m not going to answer stuff, and you’re right,” he said. But promised that “99 percent of the stuff you want to ask me, I definitely want to answer.”
WWJ Reporter Vickie Thomas, who is also president of the NABJ Detroit Chapter got first crack at Kilpatrick:
“A lot of people say your actions resulted in a lot of collateral damage, so I want to read off a couple of names and tell me what you think—former and I repeat former U.S. Congressman Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick,” asked Thomas.
“She lost that race because of her son,” said Kilpatrick, owning his role in his mother’s downfall. But he also blamed the voters for not keeping her in office.
“I was mad at you all too for not having the intellect to see that,” he said. “Kill me, but why would you all do that to yourselves? That was a phenomenally ignorant thing to do in this community.”
Kilpatrick then compared voting his mother out of office to lynching her.
“At some point we all have to have some responsibility,” said Kilpatrick. “I may have given you all the rope, but you didn’t have to exercise the right to hang my mom.”
As for his former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, who also lost her job when their affair came to light, he also took the blame for that.
“One thing I will say with Christine is she handled herself with dignity and integrity every single day and she made it happen,” he said. “So, yes, you, we lost a great one, yeah, as a leader and as a man, I take responsibility for some of that.”
But he quickly cast his affair as a mistake, and that we all make them.
“There are a few people in this room who do things they don’t want anyone to know about, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a good journalist,” said Kilpatrick.
It was journalist who exposed the text message scandal that lead to Kilpatrick having to leave office, a perjury conviction, and jail time. And he owned that too.
“In the state case, I was guilty, guilty as sin, literally. My thing was trying to figure out what would be a fair result. And I didn’t get that,” he added.
He said that is the fault of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
“We had a prosecutor who was just tenacious to make sure I was behind bars,” Kilpatrick said. “But I will tell you all that situation helped me in this one, because it helped me get rid of and live up to the guilt I had so I can fight for my innocence.”
Next month he goes to trial on federal charges. Can he get a fair trial?
Not a chance, he says, in a city struggling with crime, joblessness and foreclosures.
“People are seeing tragedy every day in their community,” said Kilpatrick. “And in a community like that, you walk this guy in who you’ve told them and others have told them it’s all his fault and say, try him. I’d be better off going down there and you just hang me from that big fist downtown.”
Kilpatrick was cordial for most all of the nearly two hours he spoke to journalists. But when a 7 Action News executive producer asked him about blaming others and portraying himself as a victim, he denied it and called her “mean.”
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