Detroit seems to be entering some parallel universe of politics. With the on-going sordid mess over the possible perjury of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick still in the news, an aide to Kilpatrick has filed a formal criminal complaint against Monica Conyers, the City Council president pro tem and wife of U.S. Rep. (and House Judiciary Chairman) John Conyers, for allegedly threatened to get a gun and shoot him. Her spokesman insisted that she was the one wronged in the encounter with aide DeDan Milton.
According to the police report, Milton alleges that Conyers “threatened to shoot (Milton) with her gun” and made “several aggressive movements” toward Milton “in a threatening manner.” He further alleges that she would “have my brothers (mess) you up.” The allegations are supported by David Clark, chair of Detroit’s General Retirement System as a witness.
“She ran at him,” Clark told The Detroit News. “She told him she would get a gun if she had to and that she has four brothers and they would whup his a– if she asked them.”
In his police report, Milton said members of Conyers’ staff, and others at the meeting, had to restrain her. But Sam Riddle, Conyers’ chief of staff, said Milton was the one who had to be restrained. Riddle, who said he witnessed the squabble, said Milton started it by telling Conyers to shut up — and used an expletive.
Later, Conyers filed a complaint against Milton.
It is likely that Milton will play up Conyers’ past allegations of threats. In 2006, Conyers was accused of punching a Walled Lake woman in 2006 during a bar brawl. However, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office found Conyers had acted in self-defense at a party at the Crossroads Lounge on Livernois in Detroit. In 2005, Conyers was also accused of threatening to kill friend Valecia Moore. However, again, there was no order issued against Conyers.
This is certainly a distraction that John Conyers could do without. Conyers has long been one of the most reliable advocates of civil liberties on the Hill. He is viewed as one of the democratic leaders who want to be aggressive in the face of the Bush policies on unlawful surveillance and torture. His reputation is also starkly different from his wife’s: He is viewed as relatively mild mannered and reserved despite his powerful position as Chairman of Judiciary.
In the meantime, Detroit will likely face the criminal charging of another leading political figure: Mayor Kilpatrick.
The evidence under uncovered by the Free Press appears quite credible and damning for both Kwame Kilpatrick and his chief of staff Christine Beatty.
The problems for Kilpatrick and Beatty were triggered in the same way as Clinton’s: when their alleged affair became the subject of a trial. The Detriot case involved a lawsuit by two police officers — Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown and former mayoral police bodyguard Harold Nelthrope. They charged that they were followed due to their involvement in an internal investigation that threatened to expose unlawful or unethical conduct by the mayor, including his affair with Beatty. The trial cost the city over $9 million and the affair was fair game for questions.In their testimony, Kilpatrick and Beatty were both asked directly whether they were romantically involved was asked:
“During the time period 2001 to 2003, were you and Mayor Kilpatrick either romantically or intimately involved with each other?” Rolling her eyes, Beatty answered: “No.” Kilpatrick testified for more than three hours the next day. Stefani asked him: “Mayor Kilpatrick, during 2002 and 2003 were you romantically involved with Christine Beatty?” Kilpatrick’s response: “No.”
The Free Press went back and found text messages that appear to show that both lied under oath.
The text messages cover a range of issues, from the daily minutiae of city business to political gossip to the latest doings on “American Idol.” Kilpatrick and Beatty, both 37, exchanged personal messages almost daily, including romantic notes. “I’m madly in love with you,” Kilpatrick wrote on Oct. 3, 2002. “I hope you feel that way for a long time,” Beatty answered. “In case you haven’t noticed, I am madly in love with you, too!” Other texts contain sexual content, like this exchange on April 8, 2003: Beatty: “And, did you miss me, sexually?” Kilpatrick: “Hell yeah! You couldn’t tell. I want some more.”
The Free Press also quotes such exchanges as:
“I’ve been dreaming all day about having you all to myself for 3 days,” the mayor wrote on Oct. 16, 2002. “Relaxing, laughing, talking, sleeping and making love. … In 2002, among their intimate text conversations, Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty planned a clandestine meeting in the mayor’s Washington hotel room during the Congressional Black Caucus annual legislative conference. Beatty asked the mayor, on Sept. 12, 2002, if she could “come and lay down in your room until you get back?” The next morning Kilpatrick, referring to his bodyguards, wrote: “They were right outside the door. They had to have heard everything.” Beatty replied: “So we are officially busted!” “Damn that,” Kilpatrick responded. “Never busted. Busted is what you see!”
Perhaps the most embarrassing for Kilpatrick is the outrage that he expressed at trial and indicated that such an affair would mean that Beatty would be little more than a “whore.”
During the trial, Kilpatrick bristled when testifying about speculation that he and Beatty were lovers. “I think it was pretty demoralizing to her — you have to know her — but it’s demoralizing to me as well,” he said. “My mother is a congresswoman. There have always been strong women around me. My aunt is a state legislator. I think it’s absurd to assert that every woman that works with a man is a whore. I think it’s disrespectful not just to Christine Beatty but to women who do a professional job that they do every single day. And it’s also disrespectful to their families as well.”
Now, the mayor is demanding privacy in a “profoundly embarrassing” disclosure and insist that the alleged misconduct “reflect a very difficult period” in his life. There is no more denial of an affair, but the classic response of a politician caught in a sexual scandal: “My wife and I worked our way through these intensely personal issues years ago.” The matter, however, is no longer a spousal point of contention. Once he lied under oath, it became a criminal matter with a potential for a 15-year sentence (though such a sentence is extremely unlikely).
While this matter may fall under state perjury laws, the standards are largely the same with the federal system.
There are generally three types of perjury charges. One is the most obvious: making false statements under oath as covered by laws like 18 U.S.C. 1621. Another charge covers material false statements under oath in related proceedings or grand juries, as with 18 U.S.C. 1623. Finally, there is the charge of suborning perjury or inducing or procuring another to lie as covered by 18 U.S.C. 1622.
The government must generally show that the defendant knowingly made of false statement or committed these other acts. There is also the possible charge of lying to investigators.
For Kilpatrick, there is probably enough on the basis of these message to charge false statements and possibly suborning perjury. Such an investigation would likely put pressure on Beatty to accept a plea for cooperation in exchange for a lower sentence.
For the latest from Detroit on Conyers, click here