State rep urges Trump to commute Kwame Kilpatrick's sentence

Keith Laing
The Detroit News

A Michigan state representative is calling for the Trump administration to commute the sentence of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, allowing him to leave prison after serving seven years of a 28-year corruption sentence. 

The call comes after Compuware co-founder Pete Karmanos said he is lobbying the Trump administration to pardon Kilpatrick.

Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo

State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a Detroit Democrat, said in a Tuesday email to supporters that she is "grateful for the bipartisan commitment" to criminal justice reform, and she believes "that it is time that we seize the possibilities of collectively advancing commutation of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's sentence. 

"As such, I hope that you will consider joining me by writing a letter to Jared Kushner, Senior White House Advisor to the President,  to express that after 7 years of Kilpatrick's 28 year sentence, as a first time offender, his sentence should be commuted to time served," Gay-Dagnogo said. "This is not a race issue; this is a Justice issue!"

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

"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.

Kwame Kilpatrick

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 more than 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, the president Trump pardoned former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Detroit News Staff Writers Francis X. Donnelly and Melissa Nann Burke contributed