GOP strategist flies into Conyers controversy

The Detroit News

Jet-setting GOP strategist Dennis Lennox found himself in the middle of a national news story Tuesday night when he spotted U.S. Rep. John Conyers aboard his flight to Detroit from Reagan National Airport outside Washington D.C.


Conyers, who is facing sexual harassment claims by former staffers, missed floor votes that night in the House.

A photo that Lennox snapped of the Detroit Democrat flying home spurred speculation he might be headed home to resign. Multiple news outlet picked up the photo and published it.

“It just happened to be a weird coincidence that I was there. Right place. Right time,” said Lennox, who works as a business consultant and said he this year has flown roughly 170,000 miles.

Conyers flew coach on the Delta flight and appeared to be accompanied by his wife, Monica Conyers.

“He looked a little bit out of it, to be honest,” Lennox said, noting questions about the 88-year-old’s mental acuity.

Conyers has denied the sexual harassment allegations and resisted calls to resign.

Lennox called the situation “sad,” noting Conyers’ history as a civil rights leader.

“It’s hypocritical for Democrats to be calling on Conyers to resign when those same Democrats are not calling on Senator (Al) Franken to resign,” he opined. “You really have to wonder if there’s racism involved here.”

Nessel to fight sexual harassment

Dana Nessel, a Plymouth Township Democrat running for Michigan attorney general, turned heads this week with a new video vowing to fight workplace sexual harassment – and avoid it herself.


“Who can you trust not to show you their penis in a professional setting? Is it the candidate who doesn’t have a penis? I’d say so,” Nessel said in the video.

“I will not sexually harass my staff and I won’t tolerate it in your workplace either. I won’t walk around in a half-open bathrobe, and I’ll continue to take all sex crimes seriously, just like I did as a prosecutor.”

Nessel is seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general in 2018. The only other declared candidate in the race is a man – former U.S. Attorney Pat Miles, whose campaign declined to comment on the video.

The Michigan Republican Party accused Nessel of exploiting a national sexual harassment and assault crisis “for personal gain” and questioned why she has not called for Conyers to step down amid harassment allegations.

Other critics noted that as a private attorney in 2010, Nessel represented a Detroit strip club that was accused of employing a 15-year-old girl as a dancer. The Detroit News reported on the police raid at Club Onyx in 2010.

Nessel is best known for representing a same-sex couple in a case that helped overturn gay-marriage bans in Michigan and other states.

Schuette: Calley ‘deserted’ GOP

Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette on Wednesday accused Lt. Gov. Brian Calley of “deserting the party” last fall when he withdrew his endorsement of Donald Trump after old recordings surfaced of Trump making vulgar and sexually charged comments about women.

The claim is the latest front in a quickly escalating battle between the leading Republican gubernatorial candidates. Calley and Schuette are competing for the GOP nomination and the chance to replace term-limited Gov. Rick Snyder.


Calley launched his campaign Tuesday and was met with an immediate attack by a super political action committee supporting Schuette, which unveiled a website highlighting his decision to “abandon” Trump.

“He can’t even go one day without getting into the gutter,” Calley said of Schuette, attributing the super PAC attack directly to his competitor.

Schuette responded Wednesday morning on WJR-AM 760, suggesting the super PAC operates independently but that the “truth hurts” for Calley.

“The fact is that I stuck with President Trump (and) made sure we beat Hillary Clinton,” Schuette said. “My opponent chose not to. (He) renounced his endorsement of Trump and deserted the party.”

Calley, who ended up voting for Trump through a straight-ticket ballot, was the top-ranking Michigan Republican to withdraw his endorsement after a 2005 Access Hollywood tape surfaced in which Trump bragged he could grope women without consequence because of his celebrity.

But Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice were among notable Republicans who withdrew endorsements or called on Trump to withdraw from the race, according to reports.

Levin backs Franklin

Retired U.S. Sen. Carl Levin has endorsed George Franklin in the Democratic primary race to unseat GOP U.S. Rep. Fred Upton of St. Joseph in Michigan’s 6th District.

“I have known and worked with George for years,” Levin said in a statement. “George not only knows how to get things done in Washington, but I also trust him to fight for our values. I know he will deliver on job creation, ensuring safe workplaces, supporting strong schools and guaranteeing every family has access to affordable, quality health care.”

Franklin was a longtime lobbyist for Kellogg before starting a small consulting shop in Michigan.

Franklin recently joined the advisory board of the Levin Center at Wayne State University Law School that’s named after Carl Levin.

Emily’s List endorses Slotkin

Elissa Slotkin, a Democratic candidate aiming to challenge GOP U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop of Rochester, has picked up an endorsement from EMILY’s List, an influential political action committee that supports Democratic women supportive of abortion rights.

Slotkin, 41, of Holly is a former assistant secretary of defense whose career has included work as a Middle East analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency and three deployments to Iraq.

“She has spent her career protecting the Unites States and proves every day that she knows how to get things done,” Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, said in a statement. “Now, she’s running for office because Michigan families need that type of smart, pragmatic leadership in Washington.”

The endorsment allows Slotkin access to EMILY’s List’s community of members and donors, as well as guidance for the campaign on communications, fundraising and strategy.

Contributors: Jonathan Oosting and Melissa Nann Burke