Jon Rutherford hired Kwame Kilpatrick’s father shortly after the 2001 mayoral election, a relationship prosecutors allege bought powerful support for the businessman’s casino project.
Rutherford, who bankrolled the victory and was pursuing business in the city, said he was approached by someone asking if he’d like to hire Bernard Kilpatrick.
The price: $10,000 a month.
“Were you willing to pay that?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow asked.
“Absolutely. I’m a businessman in the city,” Rutherford said. “Would you like to have the mayor’s father working for you? I thought it was a good deal for me.”
In all, prosecutors allege Rutherford paid the mayor’s father more than $130,000 for consulting services between June 2002 and March 2003.
Bernard Kilpatrick did almost nothing for the money, prosecutors allege.
The payments allegedly were part of a bribery scheme to win support from the mayor and his father for a casino development along the Detroit River.
“Did you need him?” Chutkow asked.
“Did I need him? Not particularly,” Rutherford said.
“Why hire him?” the prosecutor asked.
“Number 1, it’s the mayor’s father,” Rutherford said. “Number 2, you never know when you might need somebody.”
Bernard Kilpatrick left his job in Wayne County government and set up a consulting firm, Maestro Associates, after his son was elected in November 2001.
From a 2010 profile of Bernard Kilpatrick:
(Political consultant Larry) Mongo said the name of Bernard Kilpatrick’s consulting firm, Maestro Associates, conjures images of a puppet master who capitalized on the office his son held from 2002-08. As soon as Kwame Kilpatrick was elected, his father’s persona changed, and he began wearing furs, big hats and diamond Rolex watches, Mongo said.
“For the first time in his life, he was the boss,” Mongo said. “Think about it. What is a maestro?”