Duggan hopes Kilpatrick 'gets a chance' to contribute, but mute on clemency

Christine MacDonald
The Detroit News

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on Thursday lauded Kwame Kilpatrick saying the former mayor is "enormously talented" and hoping "he gets a chance" to contribute to the community. 

But Duggan stopped short of supporting an effort by Michigan state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a Detroit Democrat who announced Thursday she plans to deliver a letter to President Donald Trump from Detroit leaders seeking clemency for Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick, now 49, is serving a 28-year prison sentence after his conviction in 2013 on two dozen counts of using his positions as mayor and state representative to carry out a decade-long criminal racket involving extortion, bribery, conspiracy and fraud. Clemency would reduce the sentence.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan gives his 2020 State of the City Address in front of hundreds at Flex-N-Gate, Tuesday night, Feb. 25, 2020.

"I have a hard time being objective," Duggan said to reporters after a press conference at a Detroit housing nonprofit. "I have known Kwame since he was in high school and was a big part of supporting everything he did in his career.

"He is an enormously talented person, and I think that talent could do a lot of good in the community. It’s not my place to tell the president what to do, and it wouldn’t be helpful if I did. But I think Kwame Kilpatrick still has a lot to contribute, and I hope he gets a chance.

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Pressed on whether he thought Trump should grant him clemency, the two-term mayor said, "I am not going to be helpful with the president, so I want to be careful what I say."

"I don’t want to get in the way of anything."

Kilpatrick's father Bernard Kilpatrick was chief of staff for former Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara. Duggan was McNamara's deputy and is a former county prosecutor. 

Bernard Kilpatrick was sentenced to federal prison for 15 months and was released in 2014 to a halfway house and subsequently to home confinement to serve out the remainder of his sentence.  He was convicted of committing a tax crime that U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds said consisted of taking money and doing no work for contractors who were strong-armed by his son.