Star witness says Kilpatrick lied in TV debate

Derrick Miller

Derrick Miller

Star witness Derrick Miller took jurors inside Kwame Kilpatrick’s inner circle Monday, describing fallout from an early scandal related to suspicious campaign contributions and a televised lie.

Miller testified about a $50,000 donation in summer 2001 from a homeless shelter operator Jon Rutherford to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, which prosecutors allege served as Kilpatrick’s personal slush fund. The donation led to a front-page story in The Detroit Free Press.

After the newspaper article, Kilpatrick’s inner circle huddled to plot a response.

Christine Beatty

Christine Beatty

Present were Kilpatrick, Miller, future Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Conrad Mallett and others.

At the time, Kilpatrick was locked in an election battle with Councilman Gil Hill. Kilpatrick’s team decided the future mayor would publicly state the money did not bankroll the Kilpatrick campaign.

Kilpatrick made the statement during a televised debate, saying not “one penny” was spent on the campaign because doing so was illegal.

“Was that a true statement?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow asked.

“No,” Miller said.

Earlier, Miller largely corroborated previous testimony about a controversial state grant and Kilpatrick’s rise to power.

Miller was shoring up testimony from earlier in the corruption trial that  Rutherford gave more than $134,000 to help get Kilpatrick elected to the state House and as Detroit mayor.

In October, Rutherford testified he gave money to Kilpatrick, his father, Bernard Kilpatrick, and related groups while pursuing a casino project in Detroit.

He also said he gave $113,000 to Bernard Kilpatrick for no-show work.

Robert Snell
Robert Snell is the Detroit News federal courts reporter. He can be reached at rsnell@detnews.com or (313) 222-2028.