Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was charged on Monday with misconduct in office, perjury, and other felonies. Prosecutors said Kilpatrick authorized the city to settle a lawsuit with former police officers “with the corrupt motive” of preventing the release of text messages that suggested he lied under oath in the case. The messages also included sexual banter between the married Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff Christine Beatty, contradicting sworn testimony by both that they were never romantically involved. (The New York Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
The only decent thing for Kilpatrick to do is resign, said The Detroit News in an editorial. “He has broken the promise he made to Detroiters to give them an administration free of scandal,” and “he has misused his office in a way that cost taxpayers millions of dollars.” The least he can do is spare the city “the embarrassing distinction of being led by a mayor” facing a long list of felony charges.
Kilpatrick “isn’t going down without a big fight,” said Steven Gray in Time.com. The mayor’s story is “particularly lurid” in this “unusual season of political sex scandals.” There are allegations of “parties featuring strippers at the mayoral mansion and explicit text messages.” But despite the evidence, Kilpatrick is lawyering up, insisting he’ll be vindicated, and clinging to his job, apparently “taking his cues more from Senators Larry Craig and David Vitter than from New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.”
And why shouldn’t he? said Wayne State University law professor Robert A. Sedler in a Detroit Free Press blog. “It is a fundamental principle of the American democratic political system that elected officials should not resign from public office despite allegedly improper actions or claims of ‘scandal.’” Kilpatrick is entitled to stick around until a jury has its say. If he’s found guilty, he goes; if he’s found innocent, he stays. “It is as simple as all that.”