Public corruption is nothing new in politics, especially in the mayoral office. Past Mayors, even in major cities across the country, were caught running illegal schemes outside of their public duties. In September Patrick Cannon, the former mayor of Charlotte, NC walked out of a federal prison after serving half of his 44-month sentence for accepting bribes. Cannon got lucky.
Others have not, most notably, Kwame Kilpatrick.
In 2013, a federal jury found Kilpatrick guilty of 24 charges including conspiracy, extortion, and income tax evasion. His request for a new trial was denied by the Supreme Court.
Kilpatrick is currently serving a 28-year sentence in a federal prison, one of the longest sentences ever handed down for a public corruption case involving a government official. Kilpatrick maintains his innocence and shared his feelings on Facebook using his brother-in-law’s page.
On July 5th, he wrote:
“I know, without any doubt, any mental reservation, or hesitation at all, that every single experience that I have endured, within my life, has further prepared me for what’s next. I have made some very foolish decisions, hit my head on the wall several times, and even failed miserably. There is no question about it. But I have NOT done, nor taken part in, or been involved in ANY way, with most of the nonsense that you have heard about me in Detroit. It was all a very sinister, well executed, and treacherous plan. I most definitely helped it along with some character flaws of mine. But Detroiters shared in the drumbeat, the movement, to kick me out as well.”
Through it all, Kilpatrick supporters believe that his sentence was excessive and should be pardoned. A Change.org petition asks President Obama to grant Kilpatrick clemency. Since he is a nonviolent offender, Kilpatrick does somewhat meet the qualifications of those who have had their sentences commuted. President Obama has commuted close to 900 sentences under his administration, including an additional 98 on Thursday. The Obama administration has issued more commutations than the last 11 Presidents combined and the petition is requesting that Kilpatrick be included in the number.
The petition states:
“Pull Kwame out of prison and let him use his mind, his heart and his voice to shield other young politicians, black men and women away from the unfortunate trap he fell into. Yes people were hurt, yes people were mad but I have forgiven him and others will as well. Everyone deserves a second chance and I believe the City of the Detroit will be a better place with OUR Son out of prison and back home doing the work to rebuild his family, city and his reputation. Kwame is just too smart to be in prison and it is a disservice and an atrocity to lock him away for that long.”
The petition seeks 15,000 signatures and is currently short of just under 2,000 to reach the goal.