The Kilpatrick Civic Fund has had some issues. Specifically, with Kwame and family using a charity fund to pay for vacations, moving expenses, postage, etc. Kwame’s sister, Ayanna Monifa Kilpatrick Ferguson, says she is the head of the fund. Her home address is listed as the office. She is paid $43k/year to be the head of the fund. Ayanna’s husband and Kwame’s brother in law, Daniel Franklin Lyton a.k.a. Daniel Franklin Ferguson III, weren’t too happy to receive questions about the fund. Especially the one about why Ayanna herself was the recipient of the fund’s largest gift, $65,000.
Here’s Steve Wilson’s story with WXYZ (w/VIDEO) »
(WXYZ) - With Kwame Kilpatrick widely-believed to be in the crosshairs of an ongoing federal probe that’s already led to ten convictions, more and more attention is being paid to the little-known Kilpatrick Civic Fund. It was founded by the former mayor back when he was still a state representative. And while he no longer serves on its board, he’s certainly benefited from its money. Chief Investigative Reporter Steve Wilson has the latest.
2008 was the start of a financial freefall in metro Detroit and beyond, but for the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, times were never better. Amidst recent reports that the feds are taking a hard look at what some call the former mayor’s cash stash, his Civic Fund raked in nearly $900,000 in revenue despite the mayor’s deepening troubles that year, about a quarter-million dollars more than the year before.
It’s been shrouded in secrecy since it was created more than ten years ago. Even the fund’s secretary—Christine Beatty’s half-sister —has been unsure about what the fund actually does.
April Edgar /Civic Fund Secretary: My whole thing was just taking over after Ms. Beatty left, and I basically just took over as the secretary of signing checks. I really don’t even understand what the Civic Fund is for to be honest with you.
According to a filing with the state, it was set up with the admirable goal of enhancing Detroit’s neighborhoods and improving the lives of the city’s youth, but since its inception, the Civic Fund has been mired in scandal after scandal, causing many to wonder whether the Kilpatrick Civic Fund’s chief beneficiary is the man it’s named after.
You‘ll remember a few years ago, I caught the former mayor using the fund to finance an $8,600 family vacation at a five-star California resort, which he claimed was a “fundraising trip.” More recently, news reports have surfaced that Kilpatrick and his father pressured contractors to make large donations to the fund in exchange for city business. But now we’re getting a glimpse into where all that money’s gone, or at least where they say it went.
Alan Reinstein/Wayne State University Professor: They raised flags to me, they may very well raise flags to the IRS and they’re gonna wanna see the detail of what’s going on.
Alan Reinstein, a professor of accounting at Wayne State University, reviewed the recent filing and says he found some irregularities, like the exorbitant amount spent on “professional fees.” The professor says that usually represents payments to lawyers. Almost $319,000 worth of professional fees in the year Kilpatrick hired a legion of lawyers to defend him. That’s when Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged him with eight felonies stemming from the text-message saga.
Wilson: The former mayor had some big legal bills. Is that where this money went?
Reinstein: I don’t know where it went, if it’s used for personal legal fees as opposed to helping setting up foundations, help kids read better and vote better and educate kids…
Wilson: Which is its stated purpose.
Reinstein: Which is its stated purpose, it’s violating the stated purpose.
Kilpatrick’s fund also racked up quite a hefty bill at the post office: $190,129 in postage, shipping, and printing costs. You’ll remember Kilpatrick admitted in court not too long ago that he used the Civic Fund to pay for $45,000 in moving expenses, rent and hotel bills for the first family when they moved from Detroit to Texas. They later repaid about $17,000.
Now this is the only address listed for the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, it happens to be the home of the former mayor’s sister, Ayanna Kilpatrick, who says she is the head of the fund, working 15-20 hours a week. The form also indicates that the rent paid by the fund is $43,115 a year.
Wilson to Ayanna Kilpatrick: Do you have time to talk?
Ayanna Kilpatrick: Not to you.
Wilson: Not to me?
But the only address listed for the Civic Fund is Ayanna Kilpatrick’s house. When we tried to ask her where all that rent money was going, she and her husband Daniel were in no mood to talk.
Daniel Ferguson/Ayanna Kilpatrick’s Husband: Get off my porch, I’m not telling you one more time!
We should note, the Civic Fund didn’t just spend: it was also somewhat generous, giving more than $284,000 away in what it called grants. And the largest gift, $65,000? It went to a fund run by the former mayor’s sister.