Detroit — A new racially charged campaign attack ad from a group supporting Coleman A. Young II’s bid for mayor is likening Mayor Mike Duggan to disgraced former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick -- a contention the Duggan administration says is false.
The 30-second spot, funded by the Save Our City Super Political Action Committee, opens by declaring “Kwame Kilpatrick went to prison for rigging city contracts. So what’s the difference between him and Mike Duggan, who also admitted to rigging city contracts?”
The ad alludes to an ongoing federal investigation into the city’s federally funded demolition program. No charges have been filed against any individuals, but the probe has focused on concerns over rising Detroit demolition costs and bidding in fall 2015.
While the spot accuses Duggan of admitting to “rigging city contracts,” the mayor has not done so. The mayor and the land bank, which oversees the demolition program with the city’s building authority, have defended the program and pledged cooperation in all investigations.
Separately, Kilpatrick, 47, is serving a 28-year federal prison sentence on a 2013 federal conviction for public corruption at City Hall.
“When will the corruption stop?,” the ad continues. “Why does Duggan get a pass while Kwame Kilpatrick goes to jail for 28 years? It’s as simple as black and white.”
Young’s campaign said the new ad is expected to air on WJBK Fox 2 and WADL-TV. In the meantime, it’s already posted on Young’s campaign Facebook page.
“Please listen to and share our, IT’S AS SIMPLE AS BLACK&WHITE radio ad with your friends and family, its time we take our city back,” Young’s Facebook page says.
At issue is a controversial 2014 set-price pilot program for bulk demolitions that emerged after city officials met with a group of contractors. Three of the four contractors participating in negotiations were the sole bidders and were awarded the work.
The Duggan administration has said there was nothing unusual or improper about the set-price contract initiative, which was designed to attract firms able to handle big bundles of properties as the city moved with urgency to meet a deadline to draw down federal dollars earmarked for the program.
Alexis Wiley, chief of staff for Duggan, directed The News to a statement she’s provided in response to the claims.
“This ad is totally false. This is the kind of vile stuff we’ve come to expect from this campaign,” Wiley said. “We are disgusted by it but not surprised.”
Detroit’s demolition program has been under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
In June, The Detroit News reported a federal grand jury is focused on whether federal money was misappropriated while Detroit spent nearly $200 million to tear down homes after its bankruptcy.
The target of the investigation has been unclear. Duggan has said that nobody from his office had been questioned or subpoenaed. The mayor has said he hoped for a speedy conclusion and that if people did wrong, they should be held accountable.
The political action committee’s latest ad comes less than three weeks ahead of the Nov. 7 general election.
It also plays up the recent federal indictment of former Detroit Police Deputy Chief Celia Washington, who is accused of pocketing bribes in exchange for helping an unnamed towing mogul grab a bigger piece of the city’s towing industry that totaled more than $2 million a year.
In the August primary Duggan pulled in 68 percent of the vote to Young’s 27 percent. The two will face off at an Oct. 25 debate.
Earlier this month, the Save our City PAC took a swing at Duggan in a separate one-minute radio ad that proclaims “Detroit is for sale” and that Duggan is “auctioning off the city to the highest bidder.”