Witness talks about bankrolling Kilpatrick's political rise

A key government witness against Kwame Kilpatrick testified he gave $100,000 to a Democratic Party political-action committee to bankroll the Detroit politician’s ascent.

Jon Rutherford said his firm DPR Management gave $100,000 to the 21st Century Fund in 2000 with two conditions.

“Number 1, that Kwame Kilpatrick would get to distribute the money and that if the Democrats won the state House, that Kwame Kilpatrick would be the speaker. If they lost, that he would be the floor leader.”

The Democrats lost but Kilpatrick became the party’s floor leader.

Prosecutors allege Kilpatrick and his father Bernard Kilpatrick solicited and received more than $500,000 from Rutherford, who sought a casino license.

The testimony is illuminating backroom dealings that helped fuel Kilpatrick’s rise in the state House.

From the indictment:

In or about October 2000, Rutherford gave $23,000 to a television and radio political analyst to support KWAME KlLPATRICK’s mayoral campaign.

Rutherford identified the analyst asĀ Tatum Eason.

“He was a person that comes out of the woodwork in Detroit around election time and does things,” Rutherford testified.

Eason died in 2008.

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