Feds focus on Kilpatrick Civic Fund, first exposed by 7 Action News

DETROIT (WXYZ) - How can a five-star resort along California's coast help improve the lives of Detroiters? The feds would like to know too.

Kwame Kilpatrick spent more than $8,600 at the five-star La Costa Resort in California. But the money wasn't his. It came from the Kilpatrick Civic Fund,a non-profit, tax-exempt group founded to help improve Detroit.

The whole Kilpatrick family made the trip. So many members, in fact, that they needed a second room.  Hotel records show that 2 stayed in room 802, 4 in room 806.  The almost $9,000 trip paid for a week-long trip in the California sunshine that the mayor's spokesman at the time called a personal trip.  When we obtained the 5-page hotel bill, that story changed.

"This trip was to pay for fundraising out in California," said attorney William Phillips, who defended the payments in 2007.  Later on next week, he may testify as a government witness in this case.

That's not all the Kilpatrick Civic Fund has paid for either.  Today in court, government lawyers said it paid almost $36,000 for Kilpatrick political research in 2001.  It's a claim that directly contradicted what Kilpatrick himself said in a debate on Channel 7.

Political research coordinator John Gotoff testified today that the fund paid his company almost $22,000 for a 20-minute phone survey, asking voters what they thought of Kilpatrick. The research sought to find out Kilpatrick's biggest negatives.

The Civic Fund also shelled out another $14,000 for a focus-group, quizzing undecided voters about what issues mattered most to them.

Gotoff said it was work done for Kilpatrick's political campaign.  But the ex-mayor's lawyer Jim Thomas said it was really an investment in the community.  Kilpatrick wanted to know what issues mattered most to city residents,he said, and this was a way to find out.  But Gotoff testified his client wasn't the city, it was "Kilpatrick for Mayor."

If you have a tip for the 7 Action News Investigators, contact us at  tips@wxyz.com at (248) 827-9466.

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