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FOIA request was key in Detroit mayor's legal saga

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  1. Freedom of Information
Thanks in part to a state Freedom of Information Act request by the Detroit Free Press, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick agreed…

Thanks in part to a state Freedom of Information Act request by the Detroit Free Press, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick agreed to resign yesterday and accepted a plea bargain that will include jail time.

It all began in October when the newspaper filed its request for details on an $8.4 million settlement between the city and the mayor’s former bodyguards. The mayor has been accused of firing people to cover up an affair with his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty. Since then, the Free Press and the Detroit News have been embattled in a lawsuit over the records. The mayor at one point tried to force the reporters to testify about their request, and then Kilpatrick himself delayed giving a deposition.  

Eventually, a court ruled part of the information the newspapers wanted was public, the Free Press published text messages related to the cover up and Kilpatrick was charged with eight felonies. The newspapers are continuing to pursue additional information using the state FOIA.

On Thursday, Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to two charges related to the sex scandal.  The other charges were dropped as part of the deal.  He will serve four months in jail and the remainder of a five-year sentence on probation.  

Also as part of the deal, Kilpatrick agreed not to run for public office while on probation and to pay $1 million in restitution.