What SHOULD Happen to Public Officials Who Lie

Detroit’s long urbam nightmare is over moving onto new scandals now. Kwame Kilpatrick finally admitted to perjuring himself yesterday, and stepped down so Detroit can let some other place–perhaps Alaska–be the laughingstock for the next two months.

In a standing-room-only Detroit courtroom, Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to felony charges in his perjury case and no contest in his assault case, ending his steadfast refusal to resign amid a scandal that only grew in intensity over the past eight months.

"I lied under oath," Kilpatrick told Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner, almost echoing the Free Press headline in January that sparked the mayor’s text message scandal.

Under the terms of his deal, Kilpatrick will spend four months in jail, forfeit his law license and his pension from the state Legislature, pay up to $1 million in restitution and serve 5 years of probation. He will leave office Sept. 18 and has promised not to run for office while on probation.

Even the plea deal made a lot of sense: it requires jail time, it tries to recoup some of the $9 million this cost the city of Detroit, and it ensures that Detroit will be Kwame-free for the five years he serves probation. It would all have been fairly satisfying, if only Kwame hadn’t pre-empted about 20 minutes of the Giants-‘Skins game yesterday to say a long goodbye (grumble grumble).

This is what should happen to public officials who lie about important matters. Not like some other liars we know. Scooter Libby, whom George Bush saved from having to spend a day in jail (and who never admitted his guilt). Alberto Gonzales, who thus far hasn’t paid a price for lying about the warrantless wiretap program and the US Attorney purge. Karl Rove, for his lies about outing Plame and firing Governor Siegelman. Who knows? Governor Palin may soon be on this list for her attempts to cover up the firing of Walt Monegan.

But, as the old rule works, Republicans don’t ever actually have to pay for their abuse of public trust.

  1. Ishmael says:

    Corollary to Republican Rulz – a Democratic governor will neither pardon nor commute the perjury/obstruction sentence. I was watching this from a distance, but as someone who is fascinated by on-the-ground politics, is there any chance that the infighting in Detroit will result in a less effective GOTV in Detroit in November? I recall you saying before that statewide Democratic prospects rise and fall on Detroit turnout.

    • emptywheel says:

      I don’t think so. Kwame was never that critical for turnout in Detroit (except for his late, exit polls defying win in his reelection). And there are key people who are still tied to Kwame who have infrastructure at their disposal.

      Plus, remember that CCK is still alive and well and resurgent after a near miss in her own primary this year.

      Finally, if the comments from these Oakland County independents are even remotely representative, then Detroit may not matter as much. Oakland is the fastest growing and second largest county in the state (after Wayne, which comprises Detroit, some rich suburbs to the east, and a lot of union working class suburbs to the west). It has traditionally been a 50-50 county. But for a lot of reasons, I think it may go much more democratic this year. In which case, we’ll win the state.

  2. JohnForde says:

    How about Tenet? He will likely be testifying about the Forgery cited in “Way of the World’. Hope he’s paying attention to Detroit.

    • Ishmael says:

      Tenet didn’t lie about a girlfriend or a blowjob, therefore it is not perjury or obstruction of justice.

  3. Arbusto says:

    “Republicans don’t ever actually have to pay for their abuse of public trust.” Isn’t that, at least inside The Beltway, because the Democrats laid the ground work during their control of Congress, to establish a different, lower standard of ethics and accountability that the GOP has capitalized on and honed to a fine edge? What evidence exists that DINO Congressional leadership wants accountability or rule of law (even a fig leaf accountability).

  4. BooRadley says:


    This “Pension twist costs county millions” won the Pulitzer for the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal. The neocon County Executive, Scott Walker, cost the taxpayers $50,000,000 out of the county pension. He used it as a slush fund to dole out favors to county employees. He insulated himself by sharing it with Democrats. The neocon state AG, didn’t care that the IRS could still declare the entire billion dollar pension no longer qualifies as a non-profit. Van Hollen claimed that the statute had run on all possible felonies.


  5. Leen says:

    sounds like he got what he deserved. Now as you have said if only the same rules applied to the Bush administration our whole nation along with the rest of the world would be in much better shape

  6. DefendOurConstitution says:

    You liberals just don’t get it! Consequences are for the Democrats. It is so because God is on the side of Republicans. Getting away with lying (and anything else) is a God-given right of Republicans that the Democrats will never have because, let’s face it, all Democrats are heathens!

    If any media outlet ever tries to hold Republicans to the same standard as Democrats, they will feel the wrath of God and, just in case, the chants will be heard from on-high:

    – fear

    – 9/11

    – POW

    – sexists

    Face it liberals, God will win the election for John Bush McShame.

  7. bell says:

    DOC # 8 – lol!

    i maintain this election needs to be about accountability… obama shot himself in the foot with fisa… i think there are many people who want accountability.. that is what this is about.. that is what the libby trail was about until it was overwritten by bush.. democrats need to demand accountability, and republicans need to stop running away from it with executive privilege.. this needs to be a much bigger issue then it is, but obama did a big disservice via his attitude on fisa..

  8. bobschacht says:

    I agree with your post.
    But I have a question about Jane’s piece on Affirmative Concern Trolling over on the Mother Ship:

    It’s been disheartening to see everyone sucked in by the questions about whether Palin’s daughter was the mother of the baby, or the pregnancy or the affair or any of the other Springer action.

    I think there’s a real issue here: Has Palin been lying about this and other issues? Haven’t we had enough of lying in high places? If Palin lied about her pregnancy, what else might she feel free to lie about?

    Bob in HI

    • LabDancer says:

      This will get lost in the Fog of Blog- but such is life in the Blog.

      CONTEXT: The McCampaign strategy is clear- Repod politics as usual:

      [1] Reality may have a Liberal bias- but God is a Republican.

      [2] Snark ‘em ’til they cry like the girly men they are:

      for hating The Troops-

      for stabbing America in the Back-

      as the Other-

      BONUS 1: Dems always go from Dumb to Dumber. This time they doubled down & went from their usual uppity lover to BOTH. God is a Republican.

      BONUS 2: This moron thumbs his nose at God & America & the Troops by not wearing a pin & has the audacity of a Islamoterrorist name. God…GOP…one letter different- think about it.

      for killing babies-

      BONUS 3: This one even sorta looks like a AntiChrist.

      for same old/same old- AOT:

      the classics:

      he’s just the same as all the other liberals except worse

      = Godless commies-

      = TAX Whitey & SPEND all our hard-earned legacy to keep the Uppities on the dole & be pimps & hos & drug dealers & have sex & make more dole babies or kill them or whatever the hell those ‘people’ do-

      [3] Get Out The Base:

      BONUS: Sarah Palin is proof that God is a Republican

      [4] The Lord Helps Those Who Help Themselves

      God gave the Constitution to America so only Americans get to vote. God just expects to make sure all them Illegals & Uppities don’t cheat. The best way to stop ‘em from voting 6 times is stop ‘em from voting one time.

      [5] Indies Lack RAM

      Independents & Reagan Dems are really just Repods who been Dazed & Confused by the Liberal Media. It’s our God given duty to make sure all them lost souls know the truth.

      [6] Any Worthwhile Idea Is Worthwhile Stealing

      He’s an Elite, stupid…

      [7] If At First You Don’t Succeed-

      He’s an Uppity, stupid…

      [8] In For A Penny, In For A Million…

      No more…no way…no Uppities.

      [8] O’er The Land Of The Freep And The Home Of The Stars

      One simple rule for winning elections in America: Celebrities rule.

      Always get the bigger Celebrity.

      If your guy looks a bit puny- see if he looks bigger in a Reagan suit.

      If after that its clear they got the bigger Celebrity: you got Trouble.

      Big big trouble.

      First check your Bag of Repod Tricks for Unexploded October Surprises- you’ll be needing one. If the POTUS is a Repod he can help.

      Don’t forget: Timing is critical & these days news cycles are measured in 6 hour increments.

      So you need to buy time:

      Start by amping up the Snark to see if it tamps him down a notch or two.
      Maybe go with Japanese Monster Flick: Attack the 60 Foot Celebrity.
      Check with Market Research: What are all those doofuses watching on the boob tube? American Idol!
      Thank God for Sarah Palin etc

      [9] Always Look At the Bright Side

      OK it was bad enough that women got the vote- now they’re using it.

      We managed to hold off Ferraro with snark but the Dems look like they might be onto something with this Hillary thing.

      We need a new product line. And all hail the Genius of our Greatest Leader: the model is Margaret Thatcher.

      Thank the Lord for Sarah Palin etc

      [11] Look For the Two-for…or Three-for

      Maggie…er, Sarah’s got a little corruption wart? See Rule [10]: What do you expect?

      This VEEP tag should get her thru that jus’ fine. It’s pretty much Hootersville 1 compared to Keating 5, and it builds character mythology.

      And, oh yeah: Alaska’s swimming in fossil fuels & has NO TAXES! Isn’t that Huckabase’s thing?

      Plus Sarah’s only 44. So: All else fails & the October Surprise goes pffffft, then onto 2012:


      Get Kristol: time to dust off the Universal Health Implosion Device.