Saturday, May 10, 2014
Long-Time Michigan Congressman May Be Bounced From Michigan Primary Ballot
U.S. Rep. John Conyers has represented a Detroit area district from Michigan in Congress since 1965. That will be 50 years when he completes his latest term, and it could be his last because he has apparently grown so complacent and too comfortable with the notion that he's entitled to serve in Congress the rest of his life that he neglected to gather enough valid signatures to place him on the ballot for what would be his 26th congressional election.
It seems that Conyers had to spend $11,500 to hire a so-called professional petition-circulating consultant to gather the signatures of the one thousand registered voters in his district that he needed to qualify for the ballot. The consultant used several petition circulators who were not registered to vote to gather signatures, which rendered the signatures they gathered invalid under Michigan election law. One of the petition circulators was actually a 23-year old man wanted on an outstanding probation violation for a 2010 home invasion.
Conyers' Democratic opponent, Rev. Horrace Sheffield, was quick to challenge the validity of Conyers' ballot signatures due to the use of unregistered voters to gather them. Initially, Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett initially claimed that the petition circulators in question had been registered to vote late last year before they began circulating petitions but were not added to the voter registration rolls until recently due to a backlog in the processing of new voter registrations by her office. When pressed, Garrett told reporters that her office had erred and that the persons in question had only recently been registered to vote. Someone in her office had "mistakenly" entered a registration date from last year instead of the actual date in April of this year when the persons filled out voter registration forms.
Garrett yesterday reversed her position that Conyers qualified for the ballot by turning in 2,000 signatures on April 18. Her office's initial review of his petitions found 1,193 valid signatures. A second review of his petitions found that Conyers had 1,236 valid signatures. Yet a third review of Conyers' petitions by her office determined that he had only 592 valid signatures, far short of the 1,000 required by Michigan law. At least 644 signatures were tossed because five of the eight petition circulators weren't properly registered to vote. Others signatures were tossed for a variety of reasons, including the signers were not registered voters, didn't reside in the district, signatures having bad addresses or not properly dated. Garrett's office will make a final decision next week on whether Conyers name will be allowed to appear on the ballot. If she decides not to place his name on the ballot, he will have the choice of appealing her decision to the state's Secretary of State, resorting to a write-in campaign to win the August primary race or retirement.
Conyers' wife, Monica, was the former Speaker Pro Tempore of the Detroit City Council. In 2009, she pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges. Two lobbyists for Synagro Technologies, a Houston-based sludge processor, paid Conyers $60,000 for her help in winning a city contract. She served 37 months in prison and was released on May 16, 2013. One of the lobbyists involved in Conyers' bribery scandal was Rayford Jackson, who once dated Fox 59 News' anchor, Fanchon Stinger. Fox 2 News in Detroit fired Stinger because of her relationship with Jackson, which seemed not to bother the local Fox News affiliate in Indianapolis the least bit.