Former Detroit Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, Makes Case For Trump Pardoning Him
In the end, he was a horrible husband; she an angry mistress.
Together, they broke up families, betrayed a city and cost taxpayers millions of dollars trying to hide their affair — a relationship that ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty are publicly discussing for the first time since the text message scandal outed them more than a decade ago.
Neither side appears angry with the other, though Beatty still insists on this: She and Kilpatrick were in love.
“What I do know is it wasn’t some random affair. You know, I was in love with him. He loved me …. I know that he loved me. I’m not stupid,” Beatty said in an interview that aired in January on "Crimetown," a national podcast that investigates the culture of crime in America’s cities.
"Crimetown" has zeroed in on Detroit in Season 2, with one episode focused entirely on the infamous affair between the hip-hop mayor and his chief of staff that was disclosed by the Free Press in an investigation that would land both in jail and end Kilpatrick’s political career.
Kilpatrick's comments stem from more than a dozen telephone interviews he had from prison over the last year with "Crimetown" reporter John White, who said dissecting the affair was essential in telling "the whole story of Kwame Kilpatrick.
"It’s part of Kwame’s story, his meteoric rise ... the affair, his friendship with Christine — he points to that as the key to his downfall," White said. "We just wanted to examine that: what it felt like, what it looked like and the aftermath."
White, who interviewed Beatty in person in Atlanta last spring and summer, said both she and Kilpatrick expressed a great deal of love and respect for one another.
"There's still mutual admiration. There doesn't seem to be any ill will from Christine toward Kwame," White said. "They're still friends. They seemed genuine. They were in love ... and in talking to them, it felt like there was still love for each other in some ways."
Senior "Crimetown" producer Drew Nelles said that's the story they sought to tell in Episode 14.
"Obviously they are flawed individuals. But in the way they spoke about each other, there was a lot of emotion there," Nelles said. "We thought it would be interesting to show that side of the story — to show it as a love story rather than as a tawdry political affair. There was something a little more there than just sex."
According to "Crimetown," Kwame's ex-wife, Carlita Kilpatrick, did not agree to be interviewed for the project. Her comments in "The Affair" podcast episode were taken from a documentary film called “KMK: A Documentary of Kwame Kilpatrick.”
Here, according to a transcript of "Crimetown," is what Kilpatrick and Beatty had to say about their relationship, how it started and how it impacted the lives of many.
Kilpatrick and Beatty met in 1985, during their sophomore year of high school at Cass Tech in Detroit. Kilpatrick was drawn to her from the get-go, according to the podcast.
“I’ve always been fascinated with Christine Beatty. She had an electric personality that kind of drew people to her,” said Kilpatrick, who recalled Beatty being popular.
“She always had a lot of friends. Chris was a majorette. And so there was a whole team of people, you know, they twirled a baton and they did all the games. And I played football. So I always noticed her. And you know, I liked her right off hand.”
But Beatty said she had a boyfriend in high school: Lou Beatty, who would eventually become her husband.
“Lou was a 10th grader when we were 11th graders. Lou came back to tell me one day we were together, they were in the locker room. Lou was in there bragging about his women and something about 'all my women are fine' or something and Kwame supposedly chimed in and said, 'Not Christine.' "
Kilpatrick explained why he said that.
“(Lou) was talking about how fine his woman was and how beautiful she is and she was this and that. And so I leaned over and I said, 'Man, your woman ain’t that fine, man. She just alright.' "
Kilpatrick laughed when he recalled making that comment, noting that he was an “immature 15-year-old” at the time.
“I think I said it because I liked her and he was bragging about her. And so It was one of those things, it was not true. I just wanted to shoot him down. I didn’t feel like hearing all of that in there. And so the next day in class, she was looking at me real mean. And I said, “Hey, you know, is something wrong with you? ... I said, “Hey, you know what, I apologize.”
Beatty forgave Kilpatrick, and they became friends.
“I did like her a lot. I used to go by her house. We went to the movies. I mean she was my favorite person to just be around. We became really close friends. The impediment at the end of the day in high school was that Christine was — I do want to say this and I know she's going to be embarrassed by this -- but Christine was the no sex til marriage girl in high school. That was her,” Kilpatrick said.
Eventually, Christine and Lou Beatty broke up.
“And then senior year Kwame and I kind of liked each other, but you know we were always hesitant and … I don’t know, you know, just afraid. Afraid teenagers. You know, when you a teenager you don't want to tell anybody really how you feel, you know, am I cute enough, too many pimples, oh my God he might see, just pure insecurity.”
But Kilpatrick was taken.
“I liked her incredibly. I was always so nervous around Chris. I never — I didn't like anybody else like I liked her. And I had never felt that before. And so I knew it was gonna be nothing more than just kind of a real innocent relationship where you kind of hold hands. You might sneak a kiss or something like that,” Kilpatrick said.
Beatty described Kilpatrick as a nice guy.
“He was not the guy, let me say this, that was after me for sex. He was not that guy. And I think for me there was not a man or, or men who I trusted like that. I did not have that as a young child, and I think probably he was the first person on a friendship level that was male in that way that I kinda trusted like that, you know, and he never violated that trust,” Beatty said.
After high school graduation, a relationship started.
“We started to hang out that summer after graduation. And she was kind of like my girl for that summer and you know, I was cool with the no sex thing. I was cool with it because I liked her. And we hung out all summer, but I got nervous because I was leaving early, going to play football at Florida A&M,” Kilpatrick said.
Family members advised him to break up.
“I got all of this wise counsel from uncles and cousins and older guys that said you don't want to take a girlfriend when you go to college. And so I broke up with her. I had a going away party and she came over. We danced and then we took -- went for a walk at the end of that party. And under a street light on La Salle Boulevard, I told her that it is probably best that you know you -- we break up,” Kilpatrick said.
Beatty laughed recalling this story.
“He, um, he broke up with me. And said, ‘I think it’s best that, you know, you're going to Howard, I'm here, you know. And so I was done, I was like oh OK, you know, I was like yeah not a problem.”
But she wasn’t OK with it.
“Of course I wasn’t. Again, teenage ego, I’m not gonna say, ‘Please, no, don’t go.' I was like, ‘OK.’ No I was not OK at all.”
Then came the tears.
“She cried,” Kilpatrick recalled. “I felt horrible. And you know I gave her a hug but it was a sad moment. I really didn't want to do it. I just thought that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
But Kilpatrick still had feelings for her. “That never left, it never left, to be absolutely honest, it never left. It never went away. By the time I was at the end of college I was dating Carlita and it was pretty serious.”
But then came marriage
Kilpatrick met Carlita at Florida A&M. The two had a class together, and Kilpatrick was scolded by a professor for trying to talk to Carlita.
“Kwame turned around and tried to say something to me and (the prof) called him out in class and made him stand up and (he) got aggravated with him and sent him to the library. Afterwards, we kind of chuckled about it, so we ended up having our first date at the library which I want to say might have been his first time in the library on campus. I don’t even know if I should say that out loud but um we did, we went to the library and studied some and laughed a lot,” said told an interviewer.
After college, Carlita and Kwame moved to Detroit and got married. Meanwhile, Christine got back together with her high school boyfriend, Lou Beatty.
“My sophomore year I ended up getting back together with Lou at his college and we stayed together, you know, from then on to get married and have kids. But you know Kwame and I, of course, I mean our story didn't stop after that. Because we always had that friendship, you know, and you know, we liked each in high school, you know, that was always there but it was like, OK, well you're married. I'm married. We have kids. We're just great friends."
Eventually, Kilpatrick would enter the world of politics. When he decided to run for mayor, he picked Christine Beatty as his campaign manager and won. In December 2001, after winning the election and cleaning up the campaign headquarters, the two would begin their affair.
Said Kilpatrick: “We had done something impossible. Everybody was telling me I was too young and then all the people that wanted to support me was telling me that she could not do the job. So standing by her and her standing by me throughout that campaign, it was just amazing. It came together in this dynamic moment where we were actually cleaning up the campaign headquarters. And we were looking at the river, overlooking everything. It kind of hit us both at the same time that we won this race. This is crazy. How we do this? It was -- so we were laughing, we were crying. And I hugged her and I kissed her. And it was like, whoa. What was that? You know, because it caught us so off guard.”
And it was memorable.
"When I tell you it was one of those moments like in movies where the moon is perfect over the Detroit River, the snow was dancing across the -- you know it was one of those moments where you know, I mean, you needed a T.S. Eliot, a much better writer than I can do it to really describe what kind of moment that was, it was powerful. It was a very powerful moment,” Kilpatrick said.
It was for Beatty as well.
“I just remember kissing, and it was kind of like, 'Oh shoot, what just happened. Wow. Is there still feelings there? OK. What does this really mean?’" Beatty recalled.
Beatty would become Kilpatrick’s chief of staff. The two worked after hours often, sometimes talking for three hours when the workday was done.
“Sometimes we had to work literally, we're working until midnight, 1, 2, 3 in the morning. And you have the Bonnie and Clyde type atmosphere. Somebody who was willing to stay up all night and work with you and all that and order in, you know, get some takeout. And you start to develop, in those moments, with the tension and then the excitement. And so we kissed again and eventually we started to have an affair over the next few months. “
The guilt quickly set in, Beatty said.
“I don't want to get into the full details of my sex life but my husband was my first, and my only, up until Kwame. So the level of guilt — that I have fully violated you know my husband and my marriage — that was not a light thing that weighed on me. The whole thing was, Oh my God we can never do this again. What the heck are we doing? So it didn’t start like, hey, you know let's get it on. No, that wasn't it. You know it was ... we can't do this... we are trippin’, you know. There was always the guilt and this, this is wrong thing. Oh, but it does feel ... it feels so right but it's so wrong,” Beatty said.
And Kilpatrick, she said, was vulnerable.
“The comfort was that he was there for me and I was there for him. And I think the level of vulnerability that he could show with me, without it changing my perception of him or who he was, I think was comforting for him,” she said.
Eventually, Carlita would notice Kilpatrick was changing, he said.
“You start to develop two lives. One at home, which you’re scarcely at, and one at the office. The office life was 60 hours a week, minimum. I was two different guys. Carlita noticed I was two different guys. She didn't like the guy that was mayor. And she used to say that all the time. 'I don’t like him, don't bring him in here.' It kind of became what -- who I was the most,” he said.
Beatty said she and Carlita were not friends.
“I mean we were friendly … but I don't think she probably cared much for me. When you're a woman, you just, I mean you look at people that are around and I don't think, I think my level of influence was uncomfortable for her, as it should have been. But I never was disrespectful,” Beatty said.
“But the lie — that I had to stand in this woman's face in her house and know that this was going on -- I never could reconcile that for me. That, that literally ... ugh. I mean I was one of those, how do you look yourself in the mirror and do that? You know what I mean? ... I was like, what kind of woman are you? Like I had those conversations in my head with myself,” Beatty recalled.
Kilpatrick described Beatty as a strong, supportive friend.
“The overwhelming abundant part of that relationship was friendship,” Kilpatrick said. “It was intimacy. A lot of times it was just, you know, can I lay my head on your shoulder? The relationship was so different because we gave each other each other's heart. And that's a different type of relationship because I've had both, unfortunately. I was not, you know, a faithful husband. I was a horrible husband in that area.”
He explained: “I had other affairs. This was not the only affair that I had.”
They got sloppy
Eventually, people within Kilpatrick’s inner circle caught on about his affair with Beatty. One of his aides and longtime friends, DeDan Milton, recalled being with the mayor when he went to see Christine Beatty one day for a rendezvous.
Then there were the text messages they were sending on their city-issued pagers. One day, Christine’s husband read one of them.
“So I remember, I think Kwame had texted some message like, 'Something something, I love you.' It was ... something like that. And Lou read my pager. And he was like, 'What?' And I remember thinking, Oh my god. Like this is a problem,” she recalled.
So she made something up.
“I mean, I was like, you know, this is just like my boy ... I did ... as much spin as I could but yeah. Where my failure was that I let Kwame in that space. I became so in love with him and the idea of him, and there was really no coming back and you know for my husband, you know, we’re in counseling, where I'm not being honest. I'm being very disingenuous because I'm not revealing, oh, I'm having an affair. You know? And unfortunately, my husband and I did get a divorce. You got the warning to stop. You got the warning to quit.”
“And then when it blows up in your face to that magnitude, you know you can only blame yourself because you got the — you should have stopped.”
Kilpatrick, meanwhile, didn’t view his affair as risky.
“So you're talking about a guy who at 25 years old took the risk of running for the state house, and the guy who runs for mayor of a major city at 30 years old. Taking risks was normal. It wasn’t risk … it was just life.”
And he wasn’t worried about getting caught.
“I didn't think that far down the line. You know, did I ever see myself sitting in a prison because I lied under oath about an affair? No. I thought that like most men when they’re in this situation, I can handle it. And how wrong I was.”
In 2005, according to Kilpatrick, the affair ended. It was right before reelection.
“It came to a time when I sat down and had a conversation with Carlita. And I told her I was exhausted and we had a heart to heart. We decided that it was time to really try to figure how to reignite our marriage. And so I had a very tough conversation with Christine in 2005. Went to her home and we had a conversation in the house and there was a lot of crying and tears. But the thing was that I told her that we just couldn't do it anymore. It was sad for both of us but she also knew that it was right. So it was a balance between being devastating but also being the right thing to do,” he recalled.
But they continued to work together.
Then came the whistleblower lawsuit, when ex-Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown sued the city of Detroit, claiming he was fired in 2003 in part because he was investigating claims that Kilpatrick used bodyguards to facilitate and cover up his affair with Beatty. When the case went to trial Kilpatrick and Beatty both testified and denied the affair.
“And this is the moment I always regret,” Beatty said. “I remember we had a pre-meeting with our city attorneys and I remember them asking us...Is there anything you guys want to tell us up front? But of course, I know that there was no way that we wanted to divulge the fact that we had some sort of personal affair. Because of course we already felt terrible about our families. So it was like, Yeah, I don't think I will be telling you, nope, we're good, we don't need to tell anything. But the dumb rationale in our own mind was ... it has nothing to do with the case. So how could it ever come up? So, no, we don't have anything to tell you.”
At trial, Kilpatrick and Beatty would deny their affair under oath, with Beatty delivering her infamous eye-roll on the stand and testifying that she was never romantically involved with Kilpatrick.
The phone call that changed everything
Then in January 2008, Christine Beatty was blindsided.
“I remember our press secretary coming down the hall. He said, 'Hey Chris, real quick, I just want to tell you,' he said, 'I got a call from (Free Press reporter) ML Elrick and he said to tell you that he wants to talk to you and Kwame. You’ll know exactly what it's about and he'll only talk to you two. And they're running this story on Thursday.' And my heart dropped. I walked into the mayor's office and I said, ‘It's over.’"
Elrick together with his Free Press colleague Jim Schaefer had obtained thousands of text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty that showed that they had lied under oath when they denied the relationship and gave misleading testimony about the firing of Brown.
“We just went into this dumbfounded look of, ‘Oh my God, like, we can't, there's no figuring out of this one.’ We had to call up all of our office staff together, brought them into the mayor's conference room and the mayor said, you know, to everybody, 'There’s going to be something coming out in the paper on Thursday, um, that’s going to be life changing for this administration.' And I left out of the office that day and I never walked back into the mayor's office after that day."
Carlita Kilpatrick was devastated.
She said: “There were definitely times where I didn't know what to do...underneath of that was a lot of hurt, and a lot of anger, and a lot of embarrassment, and shame and just all kinds of things that any other woman would have felt going through what I have gone through. But even through all of it there was always this belief, knowing that God would pull me through this some kind of way, somehow, and that I had to be a good mother. I had to wake up and be a mom and that's what kind of carried me through.”
Kilpatrick and Beatty were eventually charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and was sentenced to 120 days in jail.
Beatty, meanwhile, felt shafted.
“So I was kind of on this island, like I was this homewrecker. You know, and that's what happens to women anyway. … that was her fault. You know for women. That's right. It's the scarlet letter, that's over. You know, it's the mistress, whore, I mean I think I probably was called everything under the sun. I wasn't some unmarried, you know, little peon, I was married, chief of staff, so he could have been the mistress too. “
Then Beatty vented about Kilpatrick, who she feels left her hanging.
“And then my anger with Kwame at the time, after it was time for him to speak on it, was that he didn't just own up to it and say that we fell in love, crossed a line, shouldn't have done it, hurt a lot of -- this is going to hurt a lot of people, but this is what happened … You know, we put that behind us. Blah blah blah blah. And so then I was left to cut my own deal. Two felonies, so that, you know, I'd have a felony record.’’
“That hurt me, that hurt the friendship thing for me. It was like, Wow, OK, I really am out here on an island, you know, that part was hard. What I do know is it wasn't some random affair. You know, I was in love with him. He loved me -- again, I never speak for him, I speak for me, but I know that he loved me. I'm not stupid.”
Beatty not only lost her marriage and job during the scandal, but she also lost her freedom. She was sentenced to 120 days in jail for obstruction of justice.
“I will tell you the hardest day in my life was the day I had to leave my children and go to jail. And we had tried to prepare the girls before that with the, Mommy had to go away because — has to go away for a minute because she told a lie, you know, in a court of law and you don't, you can't do that. I was going to be gone for four months or whatever, and they were wailing, my oldest daughter was holding onto my leg, screaming, and it was, that's the thing … that was the worst day of my life,” Beatty recalled.
After serving her jail sentence, Beatty left Detroit and moved to Atlanta to start a new life.
Meanwhile, Kilpatrick’s life would only get worse.
In 2013, Kilpatrick was convicted in federal court of running a criminal enterprise through the mayor’s office that included crimes of all sorts: extortion, bribery and fraud. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
Five years later, his wife filed for divorce.
Kilpatrick won't be eligible for release until 2037. He will be 67 and more than $9 million in debt for restitution and judgments he owes from his misdeeds in office.
Date Posted: Thursday, February 7th, 2019 , Total Page Views: 482