State - Race for Governor Mike Cox campaign memo criticizes 'smear attacks' AG denies attending a rumored party at the Manoogian Mansion

By Kathy Barks Hoffman

AP Political Writer

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Cox's campaign this week attacked new allegations that he attended a rumored 2002 party at former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's official residence, calling the man who made the accusations a "liar" and pointing to his criminal record.

Cox campaign manager Stu Sandler sent a memo to the attorney general's supporters calling the allegations "smear attacks" and questioning the timing of the allegations, which were made public one week before the primary election.

Cox is locked in a tight fight for the lead in the five-way contest and has had to deal repeatedly with questions about the rumored party, which never has been proven despite extensive police and media investigations, including one by Cox's office.

After that investigation wrapped up in 2003, Cox said the alleged party had "the earmarks of an urban legend." He now says he doesn't think the party occurred, but adds it wasn't his job to find out, only to determine if criminal activity took place.

Cox said Tuesday he didn't know Kilpatrick in 2002, when he was a Wayne County assistant prosecutor, and has never stepped foot in the Manoogian Mansion, the Detroit mayor's official residence.

"Never stopped. Never set foot on the grass, nothing. I couldn't find it today," he told The Associated Press. Cox was elected attorney general in November 2002 and re-elected four years later.

Despite the lack of evidence that a party occurred, 35-year-old Dearborn resident Wilson Kay Jr. said in a July 13 written statement that he attended a party at the Manoogian Mansion in 2002 as part of a motorcycle club "hired to work security at the party." Although he doesn't give the exact date of the alleged party, he says Cox was there, along with Kilpatrick and others, and that exotic dancers were present.

Sandler blasted Kay's comments, details of which were first reported by WDIV-TV in Detroit on Monday.

"Yesterday, a five-time felon put out a string of lies based on supposed incidents from eight years ago," he said in the memo. The campaign released state police records showing Kay had convictions going back to 1996 and had pleaded guilty to breaking and entering and a weapons charge and been found guilty in later years of attempted arson and drug and weapons charges.

Kay gave his rendition of events to Norman Yatooma, the attorney representing the family of Tamara Greene, a dancer who allegedly performed at the party. She was killed the following year in a drive-by shooting, and her family has filed a civil suit to prove Kilpatrick, high-ranking police and other city officials stifled an investigation into the slaying.

Kay said he saw female exotic dancers performing for Kilpatrick and others. He also says Kilpatrick's wife, Carlita, arrived unexpectedly and punched Greene after seeing her perform a lap dance on the mayor, who's currently in federal custody facing fraud and tax charges and serving time for violating probation in a Michigan case.

Kay missed an appointment to give a deposition to Yatooma about his comments and to undergo questioning from the other side. He apparently doesn't want to give another statement.

"I have been able to reach him. However, he has not expressed his willingness to come in," Yatooma said Tuesday in a phone interview. "I interviewed him personally. I believe he's telling the truth."

Kay couldn't be located for comment.

Detroit City Councilman Gary Brown, the city's former deputy police chief, told reporters Kilpatrick had members of his executive protection unit to provide security and wouldn't have hired anyone else.

"I find it incredible" Kilpatrick would hire someone from a motorcycle club for security, Brown said.

Cox already has run two ads to counter an ad run last month by Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America that questions Cox's role in investigating the rumored party. Cox's ads feature former Detroit police officers who worked with him while he was an assistant prosecutor who praise his integrity and say he's being "falsely attacked" by "political thugs."

The attorney general said Tuesday he doesn't know if he'll run similar ads to counter Kay's allegation, but he doesn't think the "bogus and ridiculous" allegations will affect the election.

"I think most voters get what's going on here," he said.


Associated Press Writer Corey Williams contributed to this report.

Published: Thu, Jul 29, 2010