Detroit Mayor Could Face Removal

By Holly Watt
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm announced yesterday that she will hold a hearing to decide whether Kwame M. Kilpatrick should be forced from office, denying the embattled Detroit mayor's appeal to have the hearing delayed or canceled.

Granholm, who like Kilpatrick is a Democrat, signed an order Monday night scheduling the hearing into allegations of official misconduct and released it yesterday.

Granholm was responding to a request by the Detroit City Council to begin the process of removing Kilpatrick from office. If, after the hearing, the governor determines there is enough evidence to replace the mayor, she has the power to do so.

In announcing the hearing, the governor's office said she will consider two factors -- whether the mayor authorized payments to two police officers in a whistle-blower case "in furtherance of his personal and private interests" and whether he concealed information relating to that decision from the City Council.

Granholm's hearing will precede the mayor's upcoming criminal trials. Kilpatrick faces 10 felony charges, including perjury and misconduct in office.

Most of the charges relate to the whistle-blower case, which was settled last year for $8.4 million.

During that case, Kilpatrick denied having an affair with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty, in front of a jury. Sexually explicit text messages subsequently emerged, contradicting his testimony.

Earlier this month, the city's general counsel, representing the mayor, filed a motion asking that the hearing be dropped or delayed, and she invited Granholm to "decline to join the lynch mob." Sharon McPhail warned that the governor's hearing, which will begin Sept. 3, would address "precisely the same" allegations as the criminal case, and that requiring Kilpatrick to defend himself would violate his Fifth Amendment rights.

"The Detroit City Council has wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars paying for an attorney to conduct a political witch hunt," McPhail wrote.

But Granholm has said the removal request does not depend on the perjury allegations.

Despite being a superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention, Kilpatrick is under court order to wear an electronic tether and banned from leaving the Detroit area. As a result, he cannot attend the gathering this week in Denver.

Earlier this month, the mayor was jailed for a night after traveling across the border to Canada. He said the trip was to attend to emergency city business.

The attorney general's case follows allegations by two police officers that the mayor assaulted them when they were trying to serve a subpoena in July.

"Obviously we are very disappointed with Governor Granholm's decision," Kilpatrick's deputy press secretary, James Canning, said in a statement.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company