DETROIT—Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, whose city is struggling with a projected $230 million deficit, has charged at least $210,000 for travel, meals, an $85 bottle of champagne and other items on his city-issued credit card over nearly three years, public records show.
The disclosure Tuesday in response to a newspaper’s Michigan Freedom of Information Act request was the latest in a series of blows to the 34-year-old first-term mayor, an earring-wearing, club-hopping former state House Democratic leader.
With an expected tough re-election fight this year, Kilpatrick already faced protests over massive layoffs and service cuts to close a 14-percent gap in the $1.6 billion general fund budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
Among the charges was one for $195 at Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ Atlanta restaurant Justine’s on March 31, 2002. It included an $85 bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne and other alcoholic drinks.
“He just does not get it,” said Detroit City Councilwoman Sharon McPhail, who is running to unseat Kilpatrick this year. “These are very immature, irresponsible actions . . . charging lobster and crab legs and champagne.”
Records of Kilpatrick’s city-issued credit card show dozens of charges for meals, including a $283 bill at Danny’s Grand Sea Palace in New York on Jan. 25, 2002, and a $456 bill at the Capital Grille in Washington on Sept. 25, 2003.
The mayor also spent a total of $611 on Jan. 23, 2002, at the Capital Grille and at Ozio restaurant while attending a U.S. Conference of Mayors’ meeting in Washington.
Meals make up less than a tenth of the charges, with travel accounting for most of it, Hughey said. He said there is no city policy preventing the mayor from charging alcohol but said Kilpatrick generally has not done so.
Kilpatrick’s immediate predecessor, Dennis Archer, said he never billed taxpayers for alcohol and normally paid out of his own pocket or from campaign or other private funds for meals above $40.
“The city really had no funds to entertain anybody,” he told the Free Press.