Detroit resident Willie Burton is one of seven elected Police Commissioners, overseeing law enforcement in the troubled Motor City. He is also, according to MichiganLive news, currently living in Kentucky and working on Democrat Jack Conway’s campaign for Governor. Kentucky is one of three states electing governors this November.
“I’m not sure where you’re getting your information or your source,” Burton told MLive Detroit when first contacted about the bizarre arrangement Monday. A spokesman later confirmed Burton was living and working in Kentucky, assuring the news site, “He’s kept abreast of everything in his absence and he may well come back from time to time.”
As a police commissioner, Burton is likely aware that, according to the FBI, Detroit was the most dangerous city in the U.S. last year. It had the highest murder and violent crime rates of all major cities.
While Burton is working on a Democrat campaign in another state, he is hopefully being “kept abreast” of the fact that murders spiked by 25% in the first three months of this year.
Burton, who serves on the Budget Committee for the police department, has missed the last two weekly meetings of the Police Commission.
The Board of Police Commissioners was formed in 2012, during the city’s bankruptcy reorganization. It provides supervision and oversight of the city’s law enforcement agency. The Commission has 11 members, four of whom are appointed, and seven elected from districts in the city. Burton was first elected to the Commission in 2013.
Burton’s background is as a “community organizer” and grass roots activist.
Political consultant Sam Riddle, who identifies as Burton’s spokesman, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery as part of a corrupt political payola scheme. He served time in prison for that crime.
Burton’s past, and his current absence from an elected office, begs the question about the role he is filling in Democrat candidate Conway’s campaign for governor. A political operative from Detroit is an odd choice for a political campaign in the Bluegrass State.
Of course, the more important question is for the citizens of Detroit who elected Burton.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that it was Commissioner Burton who pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery as part of a corrupt political payola scheme and served time in prison for that crime. It was not Commissioner Burton, but rather his spokesperson, Sam Riddle, who pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery as part of a corrupt political payola scheme and served time in prison for that crime.