Ex-Detroit police chief says rival consultant offered ‘lucrative’ benefits to not enter Senate race

“So the message for me from that was, you're afraid of me, because I'm a serious threat,” former Detroit Police Chief James Craig said. Craig confirmed his run for the Senate seat for Michigan on the “Just the News, No Noise” television show.

Published: October 7, 2023 11:22pm

Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig has alleged that a consultant for former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) offered him financial benefits to stay out of the GOP primary race for the U.S. Senate seat in Michigan.

Craig, who ran in the Michigan GOP gubernatorial primary last year, claimed that Katie Walsh Shields, a consultant for Rogers, offered him a financial incentive to not enter the Senate primary race. Shields has denied that she offered Craig anything in any quid pro quo

The 2024 race for the open Michigan seat in the U.S. Senate is hotly contested in the swing state, with six Democrats and seven Republicans currently in the running. The Democratic caucus currently has 51 members in the U.S. Senate to Republicans’ 49.

Craig announced his candidacy for the Senate primary race on Tuesday. He has worked in law enforcement for 44 years.

Craig told the “Just the News, No Noise” TV show on Wednesday that before he announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate, “a Republican consultant” had given him “a nice, friendly call,” and said, “‘Chief, you know, it’d be real nice if you would not get into the race. And we'll make it’ — and I'm gonna use my words — ‘financially lucrative to you. And you can bring your campaign manager as well.’ And so I said, ‘That's not an option.’”

Craig referenced an article by The Messenger about the call. According to that story, the “Republican consultant” Craig mentioned was Shields.

He also told “Just the News, No Noise” that Shields called his campaign manager after talking with him.

“And she wasn't nice to him,” Craig said. “She basically threatened him and said, you know, ‘your political career is over.’”

“So the message for me from that was, you're afraid of me, because I'm a serious threat,” he added. “But see, it should be, ‘What do the people want?’”

Craig’s campaign manager previously shared with The Messenger text messages and call logs from around the time of Shields’ calls to him and Craig.

“Omg Katie Shields offered Chief money to get out of the race,” read one of the texts from the campaign manager to another consultant.

Craig and his campaign manager reconstructed a transcript of what occurred in the phone conversations based on call logs and what they remembered right after the calls occurred. Shields told The Messenger the transcript was inaccurate and lacked context, and on the whole, “did not look like the conversations I had with them.”

Rogers’ campaign and Shields didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from Just The News, but she denied "making any threats or offering any money or thing of value in any quid pro quo. She accused the two men, who spoke to The Messenger within two hours of talking with her, of trying to get cheap media attention for Craig" on September 20.

Shields told the outlet that in the calls she discussed the reality of opposition research because of the difficulties of the race with multiple candidates in the primary and the implications of the race nationally, as well as the issues Craig had in the gubernatorial primary last year. Craig's gubernatorial run failed after he was kept off the ballot

Shields, who was involved in former President Donald Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns and was his White House deputy chief of staff, told The Messenger that she had called because she admired Craig and was curious about his plans.

“I guess no good deed goes unpunished,” Shields said.

“Chief Craig had previously sought my advice on a run for the U.S. Senate and I called him as a matter of respect to discuss the race with him,” she added. “Following the Police Officers Association of Michigan endorsement last week [of Rogers], I asked him to join the many other law enforcement officers in Michigan who have endorsed Mike Rogers. It’s a shame his team has decided to fabricate a story. I still hope Chief Craig will join our team.”

Craig was thrown off the ballot in the gubernatorial primary because of fraudulent campaign petitions, which there was no evidence he was aware of it. Other Republican candidates were also disqualified for similar reasons.

The former police chief said on the “Just the News, No Noise” television show that he believes there were “dirty tricks that went down during the last cycle in the gubernatorial race.”

“But I'm a lifelong public servant,” Craig added. “I understand what it takes to be an effective public servant. And sadly, many who enter into politics, they forget who they work for.”

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