Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI) was defeated in a Democratic primary yesterday. Kilpatrick was one of six members of Congress investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics and the House Ethics Committee for accepting a corporate-sponsored Caribbean junket in November 2008. I attended the event in St. Maarten before organizers had me detained by the Police Korps of St. Maarten. The investigations were launched on the basis of my photographs, audio recordings and other evidence of sponsorship by companies like Citigroup.
The Ethics Committee admonished Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), leading him to resign his post as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, but let off the hook Kilpatrick and four others. This was despite overwhelming evidence that Kilpatrick was aware of the corporate sponsorship. NLPC provided the Ethics Committee with an audio recording of a Kilpatrick speech at the event, during which she stated:
And to the sponsors by the way, all of you, we couldn’t do this, be with you, help Karl if you weren’t here with us so we say thank you very much, you are so important. To all of the sponsors, thank you very much.
The “Karl” to whom Kilpatrick referred is Karl Rodney, the organizer of the event. The Ethics Committee alleged that Karl Rodney, and his wife Faye, lied to the Committee during its investigation about the corporate sponsorship. The matter was referred to the Justice Department. The Rodneys may get prosecuted while Kilpatrick skates.
Her thanks to the sponsors were made behind a podium covered with the logos of Citigroup and other big companies, and under a banner with the same.
The other four members of Congress who were cleared by the Ethics Committee were: Donald Payne (D-NJ), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Donna Christensen (D-VI).
State Sen. Hansen Clarke of Detroit beat Kilpatrick. Throughout the campaign, he stressed the legal problems of her son, Kwame Kilpatrick, who resigned as Detroit mayor in 2008 after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice. Kilpatrick tried to overcome her son’s legal woes by emphasizing her membership on the House Appropriations Committee and what she called her record of providing for the metropolitan Detroit district.
Kilpatrick may well have been done in by her son, but the Caribbean junket, which did get some media coverage in Detroit, could not have helped.
Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), another longtime House appropriator, was upset on May 11 in a Democratic primary after also “beating the rap” on ethics allegations made by NLPC. In January, Attorney General Eric Holder closed a four-year investigation of charges made by NLPC that Mollohan became wealthy as a result of earmarking hundreds of millions to groups controlled by business partners and friends.
I will not go as far to say that the political system is working, but these primary results sure are interesting.