When more than 70% of your submitted signatures are ruled invalid, where do you go to get your reputation back?
At 4:55 p.m. Friday, just minutes before our airtime at 5 p.m., Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett’s office handed out a 2-inch thick report regarding the extensive investigation it performed on John Conyers’ campaign nominating petitions.
While running out of Detroit’s City-County building on a dead sprint I read the summary: “STAFF RECOMMENDATION: determine petition insufficient.”
Here is the final count of his signatures: Total number of signatures filed: 2,000. Signatures discounted under face review: 764. Signatures discounted under challenge: 644. Total valid signatures: 592.
The legal threshold he needed to meet was 1,000. He is now 408 signatures shy of making the Aug. 5 primary ballot. The Elections Division of the Office of the Wayne County Clerk ended up with three different tallies for Conyers’ valid signatures over the past couple of weeks.
The first look showed the congressman had 1,193. Then a second review turned up 43 more good signatures. This latest count, though, shows for all of the legal bills already racked up in this case, for all of the depositions the Conyers campaign has had its lawyers’ take, for all of the energy that has gone into trying to “rehabilitate” signatures, getting on the ballot is likely to be exceptionally difficult and a write-in candidacy is probably in the offing along with a pitched legal battle.
To be fair to Conyers, this is only the 25th (or is it 26th?) time he’s run for Congress.
Oh yes, about that “reputation”:
In letters sent separately to the House Ethics Committee, the FBI, and the US Attorney’s office by two former aides of Conyers, they alleged that Conyers used his staff to work on several local and state campaigns, and forced them to baby-sit and chauffeur his children. In late December 2006, Conyers “accepted responsibility” for possibly violating House rules.
In deciding to drop the matter, Hastings and Berman stated:
After reviewing the information gathered during the inquiry, and in light of Representative Conyers’ cooperation with the inquiry, we have concluded that this matter should be resolved through the issuance of this public statement and the agreement by Representative Conyers to take a number of additional, significant steps to ensure that his office complies with all rules and standards regarding campaign and personal work by congressional staff.
Also, in 1992, he was implicated in the House banking scandal.
Conyers has come under fire from scientific and taxpayers’ advocacy groups for repeatedly introducing a bill that would overturn NIH Public Access Policy, and forbid the government from mandating that federally funded research be made freely available to the public. Critics assert that Conyers has been influenced by publishing houses who have contributed significant money to Conyers.
Bill reading controversy
In late July 2009, Conyers, commenting on the healthcare debate in the House, stated that “I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill’… What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?” His remark brought criticism from government transparency advocates such as the Sunlight Foundation, which referred to readthebill.org in response. In the House, 93 representatives signed a pledge, started by Mike Pence of Indiana, to read a health care bill before voting on it.
Bribery conviction of wife, Monica Conyers
Conyers’ wife, Monica, a former President pro tempore of the Detroit City Council, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bribery in June 2009. This is punishable by up to five years in prison; in March 2010 she was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment, followed by two years supervised probation.
On June 16, 2009, the United States Attorney’s Office said that two Synagro Technologies representatives had named Monica Conyers as the recipient of bribes from the company totaling more than $60,000, paid to influence passage of a contract with the City of Detroit. The information was gathered during an FBI investigation into political corruption in the city. She was given a pre-indictment letter, and offered a plea bargain deal in the case. On June 26, 2009, she was charged with conspiring to commit bribery. She pleaded guilty. On March 10, 2010, she was sentenced to 37 months in prison, and also received two years of supervised probation. She is appealing the sentence. She began serving her term on September 10, 2010, at a minimum-security camp in Alderson, West Virginia.
Conyers served his country honorably in Korea. In Congress, not so much. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win a write-in vote, but I can hope that Detroit (and the country) has suffered enough from his particular brand of public service.
PS: Conyers was among the “22 Worst” offenders in the House Banking Scandal, albeit among the best of the worst:
Here is a list of the 22 worst offenders in the House bank case as identified by the committee April 1. It includes present and former members. Those who made this list had negative balances that exceeded their next paychecks for at least eight of the 39 months reviewed. This, according to the ethics panel, made them worse offenders even though other members wrote more bad checks. * Bill Alexander (D-Ark.): 487 * Tommy Robinson (D-Ark.**): 996 * Jim Bates (D-San Diego): 89 * Doug Bosco (D-Sebastopol): 124 * Tony Coelho (D-Merced) : 316 Charles Hatcher (D-Ga.): 819 Charles A. Hayes (D-Ill.): 716 Carl C. Perkins (D-Ky.): 514 Joseph D. Early (D-Mass.): 140 Robert W. Davis (R-Mich.): 878 John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.): 273 William L. Clay (D-Mo.): 328 Robert J. Mrazek (D-N.Y.): 920 Edolphus (Ed) Towns (D-N.Y.): 408 Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.): 743 Edward F. Feighan (D-Ohio): 397 Mary Rose Oakar (D-Ohio): 213 Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.): 386 Bill Goodling (R-Pa.): 430 * Doug Walgren (D-Pa.): 858 Harold E. Ford (D-Tenn.): 388 Ronald D. Coleman (D-Tex.): 673