Mayor accused of giving contract advantage

March 9, 2008 at 7:17 PM

DETROIT, March 9 (UPI) -- A close friend of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick reportedly won millions of dollars in city contracts while secretly working with the mayor's top aide.

Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty, his chief of staff at the time, allegedly provided their friend, Bobby Ferguson, inside information on potential projects and gave him other preferential treatment, the Detroit Free Press reported Sunday.

The newspaper reported that since Kilpatrick took office in 2002, Ferguson and firms he partnered with have collected at least $45 million in city contracts.

"Awarding contracts to supporters and friends is problematic," said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University professor and former federal prosecutor. "If there's benefit being derived from it, then that's a classic case of public corruption."

Ferguson denied he got any special treatment from the mayor or his staff, and said he got the contracts on merit.

"I work hard for everything I do," he told the newspaper. "Nobody's never given me anything."

The newspaper said text messages from Beatty's city-issued pager allegedly show Ferguson was in direct communication with her about pending development projects.

Beatty's attorney, Jeffrey Morganroth, said his client also spoke with other contractors face-to-face or on the phone.

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