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Former Detroit mayor sent to jail, city attorney cleared in handling of FOIA request

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  1. Freedom of Information
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick went to jail this week, as part of a plea deal on two counts of obstruction…

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick went to jail this week, as part of a plea deal on two counts of obstruction of justice for lying under oath, while a city attorney was cleared for her part in the handling of an open records requested related to the mayoral scandal.

Kilpatrick’s troubles began in October 2007 when the Detroit Free Press requested more information about an $8.4 million settlement between the city and the mayor’s former bodyguards. The mayor was 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. Kilpatrick finally resigned in September.

The city attorney that handled the newspapers’ records request was Ellen Ha, the city’s Freedom of Information coordinator. She initially denied the request which, when ordered fulfilled by a court, eventually showed there was a secret agreement to hide text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty.

According to the Free Press, “Ha later testified at Kilpatrick’s removal hearing that she had been kept in the dark about the confidential agreement and said such agreements are improper because the public is entitled to know the details of settlements involving public funds.”

The Attorney Grievance Commission investigated Ha’s actions, determining she did nothing to warrant disciplinary action by the commission.