Detroit Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick pleaded for forgiveness during a televised speech last Wednesday after a Detroit paper published a cache of intimate text messages sent between himself and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty, who resigned Monday.
Looking humbled in front of the camera, Kilpatrick clasped his wife’s hand as she stared straight ahead. “I truly apologize to you,” said Kilpatrick. “I am the mayor, I made the mistake. I am accountable.” Kilpatrick’s confession was taped at the Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ in Detroit and was broadcast on television and radio.
Both Kilpatrick and Beatty previously denied that they were having an affair. The two, both married at the time of the alleged affair five years ago, had known each other since high school. They are now facing an investigation to determine whether they lied under oath about the affair.
Kilpatrick and former chief of staff Christine Beatty testified under oath earlier this year that they did not have a romantic relationship. But the Detroit Free Press exposed the affair last week when reporters obtained 14,000 text messages, many of them flirtatious and sexual, that allegedly came from Beatty’s city owned pager that were sent and received in 2002 and 2003.
Two City Council members have demanded an internal investigation into the pair’s relationship after a county prosecutor opened another investigation into whether Kilpatrick and Beatty committed perjury when they concealed their affair during testimony last summer.
The issue of a relationship between the two surfaced in court last year, when each one was questioned under oath by a lawyer for two of the former policemen.
After the story broke in the Detroit Free Press, Wayne County prosecutor Kym L. Worthy announced that she is launching an investigation into the charges. A felony perjury conviction carries a possible sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
“These five-and six-year-old text messages reflect a very difficult period in my personal life,” Kilpatrick said in a statement. “It is profoundly embarrassing to have these extremely private messages now displayed in such a public manner. My wife and I worked our way through these intensely personal issues years ago.”
The exposure of the romantic relationship between the mayor and his aide has shaken Detroit and outraged voters, with many calling for Kilpatrick’s resignation. The Detroit City Council is examining the city charter to determine whether Kilpatrick could be forced from office.
Kilpatrick said he has no plans to resign as the mayor.
Kilpatrick’s mother, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, did not return calls to the media after hearing of the alleged affair.
Council members are investigating whether the 37-year-old mayor intentionally misled the city council into approving an $8.4 million settlement between the city and three former police officers, Deputy Chief Gary Brown, who formerly worked in police internal affairs, Officer Harold Nelthrope, and a member of the mayor’s police security team. The men claimed that they were unjustly fired because they were looking into potential wrongdoing by the mayor’s security team, which could have exposed the intimate relationship.
When the jury ruled against the city in the case, Kilpatrick initially vowed to appeal the decision, but later approved a settlement, paying almost $9 million total to the two officers and a former police bodyguard who had sued separately.
The paper also reported that Kilpatrick allegedly used city funds to cover personal travel expenses with Beatty, including one trip to Denver.
Beatty, after resigning her post on Monday, revealed that she could “no longer effectively carry out the duties of chief of staff.”
“It’s just a shame to see the talent and the potential of this mayor squandered on a keyboard,” said Sam Riddle, a longtime political consultant who used to work for Kilpatrick. “He should simply resign and then address the legal issues,” Riddle told the news media. “He’s not going to be able to govern effectively.”