DETROIT (WXYZ) - - Since it was founded more than 10 years ago, the Kilpatrick Civic Fund has been shrouded in secrecy. Through the years the fund’s directors have collected more than a million dollars in donations, but never reported how the money was spent. That changed in court today, as prosecutors revealed where some of that money’s been going.
When the Civic Fund was founded, its purpose was to enhance Detroit neighborhoods, improve the lives of city children, and promote the importance of voting. But today in court, prosecutor’s revealed that, at least lately, one of the fund’s chief beneficiaries has been the Kilpatrick family.
Kwame Kilpatrick/Fmr. Detroit Mayor: A non-profit political education, community, education corporation.
That’s how Kwame Kilpatrick described his tax-exempt non-profict Civic Fund in court today. When an Action News investigation in 2007 found that the fund was used for an $8,600 week-long vacation for the Kilpatrick family at an exclusive California resort, remember what happened? His then-chief-of-staff Christine Beatty held a news conference claiming that our Steve Wilson somehow broke the law in his investigation that exposed the facts.
Christine Beatty/Fmr. Chief of Staff: He obtained this information through trickery and deceit for the purposes of impugning the reputation of Kwame Kilpatrick.
And back in court today, prosecutors made it clear they’ve now dug up additional information to confirm that the fund has continued to serve as a personal piggy bank.
Athina Siringas/Asst. Wayne County Prosecutor: And then there are two separate checks, sir, from the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.
Kilpatrick admitted that he used the fund for moving expenses when his family went to Florida after the text message scandal was exposed in January of 2008. Then, after the mayor resigned and had to move out of the Manoogian, the fund doled out some more.
Kwame Kilpatrick: They had a meeting and decided to pay for us to have some transitional housing services.
Kilpatrick acknowledged it was the fund that has been paying plenty to move him and his family from place to place.
Athina Siringas: Move your family from Florida to Dallas, Texas was paid for by the Civic Fund?
Kwame Kilpatrick: I don’t know what they paid for. There were a few different moves. One from Detroit to Florida. There’s one from Florida to Texas, so I don’t know exactly what the Civic Fund decided they would pay for.
But as the day wore on, it became clear that while Kilpatrick has been pleading poverty and asking for lower restitution payments, he’s also been living pretty well since he left Michigan.
Athina Siringas: Use of your ATM debit card. Golf game. Smoothie Kings. Nail Salons. Gucci shoes.
Wayne County prosecutors aren’t the only ones taking a close look at the Kilpatrick Civic Fund – so is the FBI. The Detroit News recently reported that a Chicago businessman told the feds that he gave $10,000 to the fund, in exchange for Kilpatrick’s support of a multi-million dollar investment deal. When questioned by Action News, Kilpatrick said he had no knowledge of the report. We tried to reach the attorney for the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, but so far he's not called us back.