Democratic Michigan state rep joins call for Trump to #FreeKwame

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Kwame Kilpatrick. - PATRICIA MARKS/SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Patricia Marks/Shutterstock
  • Kwame Kilpatrick.

So far, calls to release Detroit's disgraced former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick from prison have mostly come from Kilpatrick's family and Peter Karmanos Jr., a local millionaire supporter of President Donald Trump who thinks granting clemency to Kilpatrick could help Trump get the Black vote in Detroit.

But now Michigan state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, a Democrat from Detroit, said she is also calling for Trump to #FreeKwame.

Gay-Dagnogo reportedly told her supporters via email that she plans to hand-deliver a letter seeking clemency for Kilpatrick to President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday, signed by her and other Detroit leaders.

"No one is arguing the former mayor's guilt or innocence," Gay-Dagnogo said in the email. "What we're seeking to have is a conversation about is the disproportionate sentencing that men of color experience at every level of the system..."

Kilpatrick is serving a 28-year-sentence for charges that include racketeering. Meanwhile, Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, a white man, was sentenced to only 7.5 years behind bars for similar charges. Kilpatrick was convicted on two dozen charges including racketeering, extortion, mail fraud, and tax evasion, among other crimes. A jury convicted Manafort of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, one count of failing to declare a foreign bank account, two counts of conspiracy, and obstruction.

The prospect of Trump granting Kilpatrick clemency might seem far-fetched, but it's not without precedent: Trump recently granted clemency to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who had been sentenced to 14 years for extortion and attempting to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama in 2008.

In return, Blagojevich said he would support Trump, calling himself a "Trump-ocrat."

Barbara McQuade, the former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan who landed Kilpatrick behind bars, said that the ongoing Southern District of New York probe into Trump's dealings looks a lot like the charges she and her team used to ensnare Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick was charged using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, a statute passed in 1970 that made it a crime for a mob boss to direct underlings to commit crimes.

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