Karmanos helping Kwame Kilpatrick seek pardon from Trump

The Detroit News

Compuware co-founder Pete Karmanos said he is lobbying the Trump administration to pardon former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Karmanos, a Republican, told "The No BS Newshour" podcast that the prosecution of Kilpatrick, a Democrat, was a "modern-day lynching."

Technology entrepreneur and former Compuware founder Pete Karmanos Jr. is lobbying for the pardon of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's 28-year corruption sentence.

"Are you kidding me? Twenty-eight years for less than really $500 of money from his own campaign fund that got spent, and that's it?" Karmanos asked during the weekly podcast hosted by former Detroit News reporter Charlie LeDuff.

Kilpatrick was convicted in 2013 on 24 counts of using his positions as mayor and state representative to carry out a decade-long criminal racket involving extortion, bribery, conspiracy and fraud.

Karmanos said he forwarded a letter to Trump from Kilpatrick asking that his sentence be commuted to time served. He said the president is considering the request.

Based on Trump’s track record, Kilpatrick needs a high-profile advocate to persuade Trump that he was treated “unfairly” by prosecutors, as those types of cases seem to appeal to the president, said Margaret Colgate Love, who served as U.S. pardon attorney from 1990-97, to The Detroit News in 2018.

During the interview, Karmanos didn't describe anything else he might be doing on the former mayor's behalf as far as securing a pardon.

He supported Trump during the 2016 presidential election, donating $2,700 to the candidate, and an additional $125,000 to a joint fund to help Trump and the Republican Party turn out the vote.

Karmanos said Trump would have an incentive for commuting Kilpatrick's sentence before the presidential election.

He said the former mayor could campaign on Trump's behalf in Michigan.

"Where do you think he'd help Trump's campaign at?" he asked. "You don't think he would go to the black community?"

Karmanos said he is a fan of Kilpatrick and that he was a good mayor who was straightforward during Karmanos' business dealings with the city.

Karmanos said he once requested a fee for some work Compuware would do for the city and Kilpatrick immediately rebuffed him.

"I thought to myself, 'This guy is not only smart but he's really quick and he's good with numbers,' " said Karmanos.

As for the criminal case against Kilpatrick, Karmanos said prosecutors failed to prove the case and, even if they had, the mayor should have received no more than seven years in prison.


Kilpatrick isn't eligible for a pardon under the Justice Department's guidelines because he's still serving a prison sentence. He's also an unlikely candidate for commutation partly because such candidates have typically served at least half of their sentence, while he has served as much as seven years of his 28-year sentence.

But Trump isn't bound by the Justice Department guidelines and has been willing to flout past practices in issuing pardons.

In 2017, for example, Trump pardoned former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.