A Michigan lawmaker went to the White House last week in an effort at a commutation for former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo argues Kilpatrick was unfairly sentenced for corruption in 2013 and is now pushing for his early release, local outlet WDIV-TV reports. In a visit to the White House last Thursday, Gay-Dagnogo hand-delivered a letter signed by herself, caucus members and several other elected officials asking President Donald Trump to intervene.
In a statement, the Michigan Democrat made clear this latest effort isn’t about the former mayor’s guilt or innocence.
“What we are seeking … is a conversation about … the disproportionate sentencing that men of color experience at every level of the system,” Gay-Dagnogo said in a statement. “And I am appreciative of the invitation, and looking forward to having an opportunity with the President and members of his administration to discuss favorably reviewing the former Mayor’s existing petition already before the President.”
Kilpatrick, 49, resigned as Detroit mayor after six years in office following a public corruption scandal and in 2013 was sentenced to 28 years in prison for his crimes. He was found guilty of racketeering, bribery and wire fraud, among a slew of other charges related to the scandal and has been challenging his sentence since.
The embattled ex-mayor isn’t expected to be released until 2037.
“We don’t have to agree on every issue, or even a majority of issues, to see the plain facts of this situation and recognize that those who issued Mr. Kilpatrick’s sentence sought to make an example out of a powerful but flawed black man,” Gay-Dagnogo continued. “This discussion is about changing that example to one of second chances and rehabilitation — the same opportunities he has given to a number of other recently incarcerated individuals.”
The lawmaker delivered the letter during a special Black History Month program at the White House last week, where she was joined by many of the president’s most vocal African-American supporters.
The push to commute Kilpatrick has reportedly been in the works for months now and comes after Trump announced a blitz of pardons and commutations early last month, including disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, financier Michael Milken, and former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.
Kilpatrick’s initial appeal of his sentence and conviction was denied, prompting multiple failed attempts to vacate his sentence over the years. In 2018, Kilpatrick would pen a letter to the president himself asking for clemency.
“Yes, I have made some very bad decisions in my life,” he wrote. “Our country has always been the land of second chances. I’m hoping, confidently expecting, that I will have the opportunity to boldly move into the next season of my life outside these prison walls.”