The Michigan Legislature has placed on the Nov. 2 ballot a proposed state constitutional amendment which would bar an elected official convicted of a felony involving dishonesty, deceit or fraud from holding any state or local elected office for 20 years.
Dubbed the "Kwame Kilpatrick Amendment" after the disgraced former Detroit mayor, the proposed amendment would expand an existing constitutional provision that bars those convicted of a felony involving a breach of the public trust, such as bribery or fraud, from being elected to the legislature for 20 years. Kilpatrick resigned as mayor in 2008 after pleading guilty to perjury and obstruction of justice. He is now serving an 18-month to five-year prison term for violating his probation, and was indicted last week on federal fraud and income tax evasion charges, some of which carry prison terms of up to 20 years.
Sponsored by state Sen. Tupac Hunter (D-Detroit), the proposed amendment was placed on the ballot after unanimously passing the Senate and being approved by the House by a 91-13 vote, far above the two-thirds majorities required in each house to present constitutional amendments to the voters, and well before the Sept. 2 deadline.
At the time of his plea bargain, Kilpatrick talked of making a political comeback, but passage of the proposed amendment would prevent him from running for any office in Michigan until 2028. The amendment would also affect former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to a federal bribery charge and resigned from office. Her 37-month prison term will begin in September.