Democrats tarnished by support for Brian Banks

Greg McNeilly

There’s an old saying about people in glass houses and the throwing of stones. Not a parable Michigan Democrats are familiar with, apparently.

Michigan liberals have spent countless hours lecturing Republicans about the need to distance themselves from their presidential nominee because, they claim, the way he talks isn’t dignified. His behavior, they say, sets a bad example for our children.

Their arguments might be worth taking a little more seriously if they practiced even for a moment what they preached.

Instead, shocking new campaign finance reports reveal Democrats in the state House, Senate, and even numerous Democratic judicial candidates have been doing the opposite, personally bankrolling the Democratic primary efforts of Brian Banks, an eight-time convicted felon who is facing three new felony charges and the possibility of life in prison.

Banks was charged in June after investigators uncovered an alleged scheme to swindle $7,500 from a local bank using counterfeit paystubs for a job that did not exist, and Banks did not work.

Last week he was bound over for trial on two felony counts of uttering and publishing, one felony count of using a false pretense to defraud or cheat, and one misdemeanor count of making false statements of financial condition.

Because of his prior felony convictions, Banks has been charged as a “habitual offender” and, if convicted, may never see daylight again.

Instead of distancing themselves from a man who spends more time in court these days than in committee, Banks’ latest donor rolls read like a who’s who of elected Democrats from across the state.

In Detroit, Banks pulled down donations from state Reps. Frank Liberati and LaTanya Garrett. In Kalamazoo he raked in cash from state Rep. Jon Hoadley. Lansing Democrats were particularly generous, with thousands being spent by state Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr., and state Reps. Andy Schor and Sam Singh.

Even Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon — last year while he still represented voters in Grand Rapids — scribbled checks to Banks from his personal campaign account and his caucus majority slush fund.

What’s even more surprising is the number of sitting judges who have spent big bucks backing the serial felon. Mark Plawecki, John Gillis Jr., and Muriel Hughes are among more than a half-dozen current Democratic jurists who show up in Banks’ filings.

The willingness of Democrats from Grand Rapids to Kalamazoo and from Lansing to Dearborn to set aside common decency in the pursuit of political power is particularly galling, because Banks is just as likely to spend the rest of his life in prison as he is to spend the next two years representing his district in Lansing.

Of course, Banks’ character is hardly news to Michigan Democrats.

While they are quick to argue that the lawmaker’s charges stem from bad behavior that took place prior to his time in the state House, they’re silent with their constituents about Banks’ disturbing pattern of behavior during his time in the state legislature — including serious charges of sexual harassment and other misconduct.

Earlier this year Brian Banks settled a lawsuit filed by a former House staffer, Tramaine Cotton, who accused the lawmaker of sexual harassment and of firing him when he refused Banks’ sexual advances. When added to the expense of the settlement, defending himself during the lawsuit on taxpayers’ dime cost the people of the state of Michigan nearly $100,000.

That charge alone would be enough to get most politicians shown the door. Instead, Michigan Democrats slapped him on the back and showed Banks the money.

Brian Banks is everything that’s wrong with politics. His behavior is salacious, boorish, and offensive — when it isn’t illegal. But what’s a little sexual harassment and 11 felonies between friends? Not a whole heck of a lot, it turns out, if you’re a Democrat in Michigan.

Greg McNeilly is chairman of the Michigan Freedom Fund.