The Nation's Pulse

Wolverine State Wolves

Sex scandals are proving mighty expensive and embarrassing to Michigan Democrats.

By 4.8.08

Send to Kindle

Just when one thought nobody could be as foolish as former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, two sex scandals in Michigan have Democrats there reeling.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had an affair with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty. Usually, what consenting adults do behind closed doors would not matter so much except Kilpatrick is guarded by 50 Detroit police officers. Among big city mayors, such a large security detail is unusual.

This affair came to light in a police investigation of the security detail and irregularities in the Mayor's Office. Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown was fired. In a deposition related to Brown's firing, both Kilpatrick and Beatty said under oath they were not romantically involved. Inconvenient evidence included more than 1,000 amorous text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty on Detroit equipment. In public, Kilpatrick said Brown was fired for cause. Other text messages from Kilpatrick had him asking his staff to retroactively come up with reasons for Brown's ouster.

Brown and another fired officer were awarded $8.4 million in a lawsuit against the city. Outside counsel at the trial cost Detroit taxpayers another $845,000. Kilpatrick and Beatty have been indicted on charges of conspiracy, perjury and obstruction of justice. Kilpatrick has been seen with his wife. Beatty is no longer his chief of staff and is looking for work.

Kilpatrick is the son of U.S. Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, a Detroit Democrat. Kwame Kilpatrick's rise has been meteoric, becoming Detroit Mayor at only 31. Now public sector union leaders have called on him to resign and a recall petition has been filed. Brown is mulling a race for Congress against Kilpatrick.

Michigan Democrats were reeling from the charges against Kilpatrick when another sex scandal unfolded. Tom Athans, husband of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), was questioned by police in Troy, a Detroit suburb, after leaving a motel where he gave $150 to a prostitute for a sex act. Troy police were trying to break up a prostitution ring and do not prosecute customers who cooperate, as Athans did when police stopped his Cadillac DeVille. In the motel room, police found sex toys, condoms, a laptop and $431 in cash.

If Athans were only the husband of a U.S Senator, it would be embarrassing to the couple. However, Athans is also a key figure in liberal talk radio. He was formerly vice president of pre-bankruptcy Air America and CEO of Democracy Radio. He now heads Talk USA Radio, based in Washington.

If this happened to a Republican or a figure in conservative talk radio, it would dominate the news. There would be calls for resignations and congressional hearings.

Athans said he found the prostitute on Craig's List. It is not certain which is more embarrassing to Athans: falling into a Troy police sex sting or paying only $150 for a prostitute. At least Spitzer spent more than Athans. It seems that the City of Detroit, however, has spent so much thus far that Spitzer's amount looks paltry.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author

Mark G. Michaelsen writes frequently about public affairs.