Ex-Rep. Brian Banks running for state Senate

Jonathan Oosting

Lansing – Former state Rep. Brian Banks, who resigned from the House in February as part of a plea deal in a criminal bank loan forgery case, is preparing to run for state Senate.

The Harper Woods Democrat filed candidate paperwork in August and is set to kick off his campaign with a Nov. 13 fundraiser at the American Serbian Hall in Detroit, according to an invitation obtained by The Detroit News.

The fundraiser will double as a 41st birthday party for Banks. Suggested contributions range from $41 for a ticket to $2,000 for a sponsor-level donor.

“I created a campaign committee to explore a run,” Banks said Wednesday. “After having conversations with union, community and faith-based leaders, that’s what we’re doing.”

Banks won re-election to the state House in 2016 while facing criminal charges filed by Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office following an investigation that involved the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s public corruption task force.

He was accused of falsifying records in order to obtain a $3,000 bank loan in 2010. He initially faced three felony charges but ultimately struck a deal that saw him resign before pleading to a misdemeanor charge of filing false finance statements.

Banks had eight prior felonies from 1998 to 2004 for writing bad checks and credit card fraud. He first won election to the state House in 2012.

Asked if he thinks his latest legal troubles will hurt his campaign, Banks said only that he is “focused on making Michigan a better place to live, play and work, and I look forward to speaking to voters every day.”

Banks is running for a 2nd District seat currently held by term-limited state Sen. Bert Johnson, a Highland Park Democrat who is facing legal troubles of his own.

Johnson is fighting federal corruption charges after a grand jury indicted him for allegedly hiring a “ghost employee” onto his state senate payroll in late 2013 to repay her for a personal loan. U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman on Tuesday rejected Johnson’s attempt to dismiss the case.

Adam Hollier, a Democrat who worked as Johnson’s chief of staff until 2012, is also running for the state Senate seat. He left Johnson’s office before the alleged wrongdoing.

“I think people should be electing candidates the way they pick doctors,” he said Wednesday. “Look at people’s records and find people who are the most qualified.”

Hollier, 32, also previously worked for former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and helped lead the Hantz Farms project. He is director of community and government relations for the Michigan Fitness Foundation and said he is a commissioned officer in the Army Reserve.

He said Banks’ criminal history should be one of many factors 2nd District voters consider when picking their next state senator in 2018.

“I expected Brian to be in the race, so it doesn’t change anything for me,” Hollier said.

Tommy Campbell, a 52-year-old investment adviser from Grosse Pointe Farms, is also running in the 2018 Democratic primary and said he wants to make the Senate district “cleaner, safer and more enjoyable” for all residents.

“I believe we deserve a person that values integrity, a person passionate about service to others and a history of demonstrating that very thing,” Campbell said, declining to clarify whether he thinks Banks fits that description.

The 2nd Senate District stretches from southwest Detroit through the city’s east side and includes Highland Park, Hamtramck, Harper Woods and the Pointes.