Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

February 7, 2013

Michigan in Brief: 02/07/2013

GOP wants 6% sales tax for online sales

LANSING — Michigan Republican lawmakers are working to make online retailers collect the same sales taxes as brick-and-mortar businesses.

Republican Reps. Eileen Kowall of White Lake and Rob VerHuelen of Walker introduced "The Main Street Fairness Act" on Wednesday. The bills would require online retailers to collect a 6 percent sales tax at the point of sale and submit it to the state.

Kowall says the current "unfair advantage" for online retailers is hurting Michigan businesses.

Kilpatrick won't testify in own defense

DETROIT — Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick declined to testify Wednesday as the presentation of evidence in his corruption trial closed after nearly 70 days.

Kilpatrick told a judge he understood he had the right to speak in his own defense but would pass. His father, Bernard, and buddy Bobby Ferguson also declined to personally rebut the government's evidence of kickbacks, fraud and tax violations during the younger Kilpatrick's time at city hall.

Closing arguments are set for Monday.

Kilpatrick, 42, declined to comment outside court. The Kilpatricks and Ferguson are charged with a broad scheme to enrich themselves by fixing contracts and pressuring businesses to pay bribes to stay in favor.

An IRS agent recently testified that Kilpatrick's spending exceeded his W-2 tax statements by more than $800,000 from 2003 to 2008. His defense lawyer has suggested Kilpatrick saved money before becoming mayor and said he was showered with cash gifts from staff and supporters while in office.

The final witnesses Wednesday were two people who said Ferguson spent millions of dollars on equipment and insurance. It was an effort to show he had a legitimate construction business, which no one has disputed.

Bernard Kilpatrick, 71, told reporters he felt "a whole lot better than I did on day one" of trial. He didn't elaborate. Ferguson attorney Michael Rataj predicted victory.

Otherwise, Rataj said, "why would I get up in the morning and do this?"

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds praised jurors before sending them home until next week.

"It's been going on a long time. You've been taking a lot of notes. ... There's a lot to go over," she said.

The trial began in September but was held only for half-days. Many weeks were lost to the holidays and the illness of Ferguson defense attorney Gerald Evelyn.

Kilpatrick, a Democrat, was elected Detroit mayor in 2001. He resigned in 2008 and pleaded guilty to obstructing justice by lying in a civil case about having sex with an aide. He subsequently served 14 months in prison for violating his probation in that case.

Voters booted his mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, from Congress in 2010, partly because of a negative perception of her due to her son's troubles.

___

Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap .

AP-WF-02-06-13 2301GMT

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