Berg: Kilpatrick paid me for political work with nonprofit money

Berg: Kilpatrick paid me for political work with nonprofit money

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DETROIT -- For years, Bob Berg was Kwame Kilpatrick's mouthpiece, the man who walked behind the man and whispered in his ear.  Tuesday he was a witness for the prosecution, testifying that Kilpatrick used nonprofit money to pay him for political work.

Berg's firm received $10,000 and prosecutors say that amounts to fraud because donors to Kilpatrick's nonprofit civic fund were told the money wouldn't be used to help politicians.

Kilpatrick attorney Jim Thomas said the money Berg got helped Kilpatrick defuse a controversy involving a contribution from homeless shelter operator John Rutherford.  That could've hurt Kilpatrick's image.  That, in turn, would've made it harder to raise money for the nonprofit.

However, Berg wouldn't bite when Thomas asked him, "In your mind, were you being paid to help get through the Rutherford issue?"

Berg answered, "No, our focus was on the campaign."

Thomas also asked an executive from Hart Research Associates if the polling they did could've benefited Kilpatrick's nonprofit, which paid it tens of thousands of dollars.  The executive said the firm's political division did the survey, but she acknowledged she didn't know how Kilpatrick used the data.

Tuesday's testimony ended with a James Bond feel as the owner of a spy shop testified that Kilpatrick's security team bought anti-bugging and counter surveillance equipment with money from Kilpatrick's nonprofit.  However, he couldn't remember where he did a bug sweep for Kilpatrick's cop raising a question about his credibility.

It's all about reasonable doubt at this point.  The prosecution brings eyewitnesses who say he gave me nonprofit money to do purely political work and the defense says there must have been some benefit for the city because helping a mayor understand what the issues are in a city ultimately helps the city.  Really thorny issues for the jury to sort through.

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