Deadline Detroit | James Craig, likely Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate, has twice filed for bankruptcy

By Tom Perkins and Violet Ikonomova

Former Detroit Police Chief and possibly Republican gubernatorial candidate James Craig has twice filed for bankruptcy while likely a lieutenant in the Los Angeles Police Department, Federal Court documents obtained show by Metro Times and Deadline Detroit.


James Craig. (Photo: Nancy Derringer)

The 1997 and 1998 Chapter 13 filings stem from credit card debt, IRS arrears, and delinquent mortgage payments, potentially raising questions for voters about Craig’s ability to manage the budget of over $ 60 billion from the state. The cases appear to be designed to reorganize debt to avoid a looming foreclosure on a $ 270,000 house he and his then-wife bought in Los Angeles’ Baldwin Hills neighborhood, according to the lawyer for the Southfield-based bankruptcy, Morrie Lefkowitz, who was not part of the case but reviewed the records. .

Although the documents do not provide a concrete reason why Chapter 13 was filed, it is often used by those who are on the verge of losing their homes, Lefkowitz said. Documents show Craig, then in his 40s, and his then wife were about $ 15,000 in arrears on mortgage payments and owed $ 26,000 on 11 credit cards, including $ 5,000 to Discover, 1,600 $ at Goodyear and $ 700 at Saks Fifth Avenue.

“I guess he wanted to catch up with the mortgage company,” Lefkowitz said. “They’re presenting a reorganization – it’s who I owe, it’s what I owe, it’s my income, my expenses, and it’s the amount of money I have to pay creditors.”

Craig nor a spokesperson immediately responded to requests for comment. We’ll update this story when and if they do.

The reveal comes as Craig promises to make a “Important announcement for Michigan’s future” on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show next week. The former police chief was courted by state and national GOP figures to take on Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2022, and is seen as a strong candidate for public order who could draw black voters to Detroit, where he was generally popular as a chef.


Craig’s old home in Baldwin Hills. (Photo: Google Maps)

A recent poll showed Craig and Whitmer within a few points of each other in a hypothetical game, but potential Michigan voters overwhelmingly prefer the ex-chief to run jobs and the economy, with a poll by May Target Insyght showing it up 63 to 30% in this category. .

“This information could sway these people,” “Republican voters prefer someone strong on the economy. (Craig’s managers) make it sound like they didn’t look at him before hopping on his train.

No candidate for governor of Michigan or the U.S. Senate in at least the past 50 years has filed for bankruptcy, political analyst Bill Ballenger said.

“It would be kind of a first,” Ballenger said. “But based on his explanation, I think it might elicit some sympathy for him; voters can say, “Hey, I can relate to that. “

“If he pretended to be another Rick Snyder, though – you know, ‘I’m a self-made millionaire, I want to turn the state economy around’ – it might hurt him. But we haven’t heard that. by Craig.

Craig’s political stock and national visibility increased last summer with appearances in right-wing media like Fox News and Newsmax where he questioned the motives of racial justice protesters, saying their goal was to promote “a Marxist ideology”.

It is not clear from the documents why the couple were unable to track credit card, auto, tax and credit card payments. Court documents show that Craig, who was a police lieutenant around 2000, and his wife were making around $ 140,000 a year combined. It was enough to cover the expenses and debts listed for them and two children, according to the documents. One child was Craig’s from a previous marriage; court records show he was married to three different women.

Credit card debt aside, the couple owed the IRS nearly $ 2,000; approximately $ 254,000 for their 2,100 square foot stucco house with pool; around $ 14,000 on a Pontiac Grand Prix.

The December 1997 filing was rejected soon after a payment plan of approximately $ 1,070 for 36 months was agreed upon by the Craigs and the debtors. Documents show the Craigs did not make the first payment, although it is not clear why.

A second case was filed months later and a similar payment plan was established in April 1998, but the first payment was never made this time around either. However, property records show that the Craigs appear to refinance their home in September 1998 and borrowed $ 284,000.

About six months later, the Craigs sold the house for $ 332,000, enough to cover their debt, which appears to have ended the financial problems.

Bankruptcies like this when people found themselves underwater and faced with the prospect of losing their homes were more common in the 1990s, Lefkowitz said.

“Mortgage companies are now more in tune with trying to keep people from getting to this point and now offering so many programs to fix the problems,” he said. “You don’t see so many foreclosure sales on properties anymore. “

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