Politics & Government
1:20 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Commentary: Election scandals

Brian Banks has eight felony convictions on his record, for things like bad checks and credit card fraud.

His landlord had him evicted from a rental property in Harper Woods last week, saying he had written bad checks and not paid his rent. Additionally, he was evicted from a second home in that city and a court ordered him to pay a nearly $4,000 judgment.

Nobody seems quite sure where Banks lives now. But it does seem reasonably certain that he will be elected to the state legislature tomorrow. He is the Democratic Party’s nominee in the First District, which includes Harper Woods, some of the Grosse Pointes and a big chunk of Detroit.

Mr. Banks says voters have nothing to fear, that he has turned his life around, adding, “I was a victim of the economy.“

However, the Huffington Post says Banks could be facing another serious charge, since one of his landlords says he bounced a check for a building that was used as a campaign headquarters.

If so, and the check was over $500, that could be a felony. Now, Banks does have a Republican opponent, Dan Schulte, a Grosse Pointe Shores councilman. If the Michigan Democratic Party had the state’s best interests at heart, you might think they would abandon Banks. If they aren’t willing to endorse Mr. Schulte, you might think they’d suggest writing in someone more worthy.

But they won’t do that. Why? Democrats are desperately hoping to take control of the state house of representatives, and every seat counts.  The legislature could refuse to seat Banks, or expel him if he gets there, though that happens very rarely.

Republicans and their allies don’t have clean hands in this election either. Thanks to former Congressman Thad McCotter’s disgraceful personal and political meltdown, the Republican nominee for Congress in the Eleventh District is one Kerry Bentivolio.

Bentivolio’s distinctly odd political views include the belief that we should close all our foreign military bases and retreat from any international commitments. Dressing up as Santa Claus and training reindeer are also a big part of his life. However, Bentivolio doesn’t necessarily play well with others. He has a history of bankruptcy. He may have been forced to leave his job as a public school teacher after complaints about the way he treated students. Last week, his brother Philip said that the candidate had undergone electroshock therapy for sniffing glue.

His brother added, “I believe that if he gets elected, he will eventually serve time in prison.” The candidate responded that his brother was mentally ill, while a third brother was noncommittal as to who was telling the truth. Be that as it may, on balance, it seems hard to imagine that this is the best the Eleventh District can do by way of a congressman. There is a mainstream Democratic opponent, a top Oakwood hospital physician named Syed Taj.

Yet the Republican leadership has refused to repudiate Bentivolio, even though they denounced him as “Krazy Kerry,” back during the August primary campaign.

Well, it seems to me both parties have a lot to be ashamed about. If you wonder why people are so cynical about politics, I’ve just given you two perfect examples of the reason why.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s political analyst. Views expressed in the essays by Lessenberry are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.