Jackson, Kilpatrick and Nagin: A Bad Ending for Black History Month
By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com
March 1, 2013
Jackson, Kilpatrick and Nagin is not the name of a prestigious law firm. Former Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., former mayor of Detroit Kwame Kipatrick and former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin have publicly fallen from grace with more publicity about their transgressions during this year’s Black History Month.
Black History Month started in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Week. In 1976 it became Black History Month. I doubt if Dr. Woodson could imagine that we would end Black History Month with three very public figures who had such a long and hard fall from grace.
These once prominent and rising political stars have crashed and burned as a result of making some woefully bad choices that all but ended their careers. Fueled by some combination of sex, greed and money, these once powerful men have been reduced to pitiful and pathetic figures who after having gotten caught, decided to come clean and admit to making some mistakes. They all claim to be sorry for violating the public’s trust. Yawn!
One can assume that all three men at one time had good intentions and at times during their careers did some good deeds.
Let’s take a quick look at each man and their fall from grace.
Jesse Jackson, Jr.: As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors recommended that Jesse Jackson, Jr., receive a sentence of 46 to 57 months in prison. Jackson is scheduled for sentencing on June 28, 2013. Court papers released by federal prosecutors on Wednesday provided new details about how Jackson and his wife used the $750,000 in campaign money to finance their lavish lifestyle.
From 2007 to 2011, Jackson bought $10,977.74 worth of televisions, DVD players and DVDs at Best Buy. In 2008, Jackson used the money for things like a $466.30 dinner at CityZen in the Mandarin Oriental in Washington and a $5,587.75 vacation at the Martha’s Vineyard Holistic Retreat, the document said.
On at least two instances, Jackson and his wife used campaign money at Build-A-Bear Workshop, a store where patrons can create stuffed animals. From December 2007 through December 2008, the Jacksons spent $313.89 on “stuffed animals and accessories for stuffed animals” from Build-A-Bear, according to the documents. Jackson also arranged in March 2011 to have $7,000 paid to the taxidermist, with much of the money coming from a campaign account, and it was shipped a month later to Jackson’s Congressional office.
Other documents released showed how Jackson used his campaign money to buy items like fur capes, celebrity memorabilia and expensive furniture. Among those items were a $5,000 football signed by American presidents and two hats that once belonged to Michael Jackson, including a $4,600 fedora.
Kwame Kilpatrick: Kwame Kilpatrick is facing 30 counts of illegal conduct.
- One count of racketeering conspiracy, punishable by up to 20 years in prison
- Eight counts of extortion, punishable by up to 20 years in prison; $250,000 fine
- Two counts of bribery, punishable by up to 10 years in prison; $250,000 fine
- 13 counts of mail and wire fraud, punishable by up to 20 years in prison; $250,000 fine
- Five counts of filing false tax returns, punishable by up to three years in prison; $100,000 fine
- One count of income tax evasion, punishable by up to five years in prison
In January 2008, The Detroit Free Press examined and revealed the existence of more than 14,000 text messages exchanged between former “Hip-Hop Mayor,” Kwame Kilpatrick and his then chief of staff Christine Beatty on their city owned pagers between September–October 2002 and April–May 2003. The messages detailed a sexual relationship between Kilpatrick and Beatty. The text messages also contradicted testimony that Kilpatrick and Beatty gave at a trial in 2007 in regard to whether they had an affair and had fired Detroit Police Chief Gary Brown for investigating the mayor’s behavior. The text messages describe Kilpatrick and Beatty’s use of city funds to arrange romantic getaways, their fears of being caught by the mayor’s police protection unit, and evidence the pair conspired to fire Police Chief Brown.
Fast forward to 2013, Kilpatrick violated parole by failing to disclose cash gifts that could have been used toward the $854,063 restitution he owes the city from the text-message scandal.
Ray Nagin: Former New Orleans mayor and the public face of the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, has been indicted by a grand jury on 21 federal corruption charges.
The indictment alleges Nagin awarded lucrative city contracts to contractors in exchange for more than $200,000 in kickbacks and first-class trips to Hawaii, Jamaica and Las Vegas.
Nagin, 56, served two four-year terms as mayor, from 2002 to 2010, and currently lives in Frisco, Texas. If convicted on all charges, he faces more than 15 years in prison. Nagin becomes the first mayor in the city’s 295-year history to be indicted under federal corruption charges.
The indictment alleges that, between 2005 and 2008, Nagin:
- Accepted more than $70,000 in bribes from a consultant who later won more than a dozen public works contracts with the city
- Received paid lodging and vacation expenses for himself and his family in Hawaii and was flown first-class to Jamaica by a city contractor
- Accepted a free private jet trip to Chicago and Las Vegas from another contractor
- Enriched his New Orleans-based family granite supply company through dealings with the city
These three men appear to have fallen to greed, exercised terrible judgment and violated the public trust. It also appears that they got “full of themselves” and strayed away from their moral values. In each case there also appears to be a lack of accountability.
It was announced today that Jesse Jackson, Jr., is writing a book about his life in order to clarify his legacy. His legacy? What legacy? Here’s an interesting fact. In 1999, Jackson co-wrote a book with his father, Jesse Jackson, Sr. The name of the book was “It’s About the Money: How You Can Get Out of Debt, Build Wealth, and Achieve Your Financial Dreams.”
These men do not reflect our entire community. They are guys who had promising careers and allegedly turned into “bad seeds.” Black History Month is about the people who came before us and made positive contributions to this country. People who should be remembered for what they did to change and advance America. Jackson, Kilpatrick and Nagin will be mentioned on the other side of the ledger. Though much has been said, their legacies are still being written. I wonder what history will say about them when it’s all said and done. Or will anyone really care?
Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In America.com a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In America.com Blog. Gary is also the author of the book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.”