Detroit politician who claims two homes may live in neither

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A woman running for state representative claimed that she lived in one home to save money on taxes - and in another house 70 miles away - so she could run for office in Detroit.

Bettie Cook Scott has signed so many papers claiming to live in so many places so she could save a bundle on taxes and run for office, it is hard to know where her home really is - unless, of course, you are her friend or her neighbor.

ML Elrick: "Ms. Cook, last chance, tell us where you live - why won't you tell people where you really live."

Cook: "I'm going to your bosses now."

Cook-Scott is a woman with many addresses, but no answers. As she drove away, I couldn't help wondering whether I'd ever be able to prove where she really lived.

Then my phone rang. It was Danetta Simpson, Cook's old pal.

"She lives on Kensington Street and, from what I know, she always has lived on Kensington Street," said Simpson.

Elrick: "And how do you know that?"

Simpson: "She's taken me there inside her home. We have gone out and ate lunch together, went shopping together, and I styled her hair there, and she always takes me there."

Simpson says she's had a falling out with Cook, but she was not the first person to tell me Cook really lives on Kensington Avenue. It's a lovely home, but unfortunately for Cook's political ambitions, it's just outside the second district, where she wanted to run for office.

After my investigation raised questions about Cook's residency, I also heard from Veronica Gray.

"Bettie Cook Scott is my next door neighbor," Gray said. "She resides right there on Kensington and Cornwall. I believe it's 4800 Kensington and I live right here.

"I know specifically that she has lived here since 2008."

There's plenty of evidence to support these women's claims including Cook's lawn signs all over the place at 4800 Kensington.

Then there's a letter from the Democratic Party, addressed to, you guessed it, 4800 Kensington.

"Daily, routinely, she comes in, clicks the button, opens the garage, parks her car," Gray said. "She shares things from the pear tree with me for my grandchildren. She lives there, right there, at that corner house.

"If she has moved out, it's since you aired your story."

Since I reported last month that Cook appeared to be playing games with where she lives, it appears she has moved into the co-op apartment where she was supposed to be living all along. 

But she might not be there long. Shortly after the owners learned she had ended her eight-year exile, they filed suit to evict her.

And that might not be her only problem, Simpson filed a complaint with the Wayne County clerk alleging that Cook did not live in the second district, and used her son's address to qualify to run in that district.

Simpson and Gray say they are sick of politicians playing games with Detroit voters.

"For all of our politicians, we've gone through enough of the criminal activities," Gray said. "Let's do all that we can to unite Detroit and do the right thing for the community."

So that's it, right? Case closed?  Well, not so fast.

Simpson complained to the county clerk that Cook helped Cook's nephew run in the second district as a Republican. You may be wondering why a candidate would set up a potential family feud. It makes sense if one of those candidates is looking for a cake walk in the general election.

Anthony Michael Murray won the Republican nomination, but hasn't returned my calls or answered his door.

Local Republicans say they have never heard of him. I don't know the relationship between Murray and Cook, but they have at least one thing in common: this east side co-op where Cook claimed she lived so she could qualify to run in the second district.

This 2001 lawsuit as well as Murray's voting registration record shows that he once also claimed Cook's co-op as his home - and that doesn't sit well with Gray.

"It's sad to think that she would utilize a family member to set up the election," she said. "So we're fighting hard to get people to register and vote, and now you're setting it up to have your relative run against you as a Republican?

"That's not right. That’s not fair. Be right with the people."

Every election I hear from Detroiters accusing candidates of claiming false addresses so they can run for office. Now Detroiters are complaining to public officials.

Wayne County Clerk Kathy Garrett has received two complaints about Cook,  and referred one to Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and sent one to the Michigan Secretary of State.