Brian Banks (politician)

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Brian Roderick Banks
Brian Banks with Sherry Gay-Dagnogo.jpg
Brian Banks with Sherry Gay-Dagnogo
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 1st district
In office
January 1, 2013 – February 6, 2017
Preceded by Tim Bledsoe
Succeeded by Tenisha Yancey
Personal details
Born (1976-11-15) November 15, 1976 (age 41)
Detroit, Michigan
Political party Democratic
Parents Joyce A. Banks
Residence Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan
Alma mater Wayne State University (B.S., M.Ed.)
Michigan State University College of Law (J.D.)
Occupation Unemployed
Website Official Website

Brian Roderick Banks (born November 15, 1976) is a Democratic former member of the Michigan House of Representatives and current candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd District of the Michigan Senate.

Criminal and civil history[edit]

Since 1998, Brian Banks has been convicted of eight felonies.[1]

Civil Judgements[edit]

Since his first election, Brian Banks has civil judgements against him in the amount of $47,809.84. He has been evicted a total of seven times in recent years, including two eviction proceedings filed against him in 2016.[2]

During the 2012 election, Brian Banks refused to pay Sawicki & Sons, the company that made his campaign signs.[3]

During the 2012 Primary Election, Brian Banks was evicted from a home in Harper Woods at 19239 Berden by landlord Michele Wood, who took him to court three times for writing bad checks and not paying rent.[4]

After the 2012 General Election, Brian Banks was evicted from his Harper Woods home at 20927 Fleetwood when he bounced two checks to landlord Dan Sylvester.[5]

Sexual Harassment[edit]

In 2013, Brian Banks was sued for sexual harassment by his Legislative Aide, Mr. Tramaine Cotton.[6] According to Tim Bowlin, director of the House Business Office, the state paid $85,622 to the Dickinson Wright law firm to defend Banks against the charges of sexual harassment. The lawsuit was later settled for $11,950.[7]

Fraud[edit]

On June 28, 2016, Brian Banks was charged with three new felonies and one misdemeanor by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette over documents he falsified, to obtain a personal loan in June 2010. Because of his previous felony convictions, Banks was charged as a habitual offender and could have faced life in prison if convicted of the new felonies.[8] In August 2016, Banks was bound over to Wayne County Circuit Court for trial on all charges by District Court Judge Deborah Langston. Banks was formally arraigned in Circuit Court on August 23.[9]

Mail Fraud[edit]

In July 2016 Kevin Trayer, the Postmaster of the Richland Post Office, investigated Brian Banks for mail fraud, concerning mail pieces that listed defunct Political Action Committees in the required political disclaimer. The pieces attacked Banks Primary opponent Pamela Sossi and echoed claims Banks had made while knocking doors. The former legislators tied to the dissolved PAC's had no ties to Brian Banks and denied allowing him to use the PAC's for any purpose.[10]

Violation of Michigan Campaign Finance Act[edit]

On September 15, 2016, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson ruled that Brian Banks used House funds or resources to mail invitations to an event advocating for his re-election, a violation of section 57 of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act. As a result, Banks was required to personally reimburse the Michigan House of Representatives for the materials and labor misused.[11]

In December 2016, Brian Banks filed a motion to have Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's office disqualified from the case, again claiming that the charges brought against him were politically motivated collusion between Pamela Sossi and the Attorney General, timed to ensure Banks lost his bid for re-election.[12] Wayne County Circuit Judge Michael Hathaway dismissed Banks motion, ruling that the key question was not why Banks may have been charged, but whether he committed the crimes alleged in the charges.[13]

In February 2017, Brian Banks reached a plea agreement with the Attorney General's office in which all felony counts against were dropped in exchange for his immediate resignation from the Michigan House of Representatives and pleading guilty to one misdemeanor.[14] Banks announced his formal resignation in Wayne County Circuit Court on February 6, 2017.[15]

FBI Corruption & Bribery Investigation[edit]

In December 2017, the Detroit Free Press obtained FBI wiretap transcripts that were unsealed in U.S. District Court. The investigation is linked to a corruption case against Gasper Fiore, the owner of Boulevard & Trumbull Towing, a large City of Detroit contractor. In December 2017, Fiore entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office, in which he agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit federal program bribery. According to court documents, the government had probable cause that Fiore and 17 other targets were involved in several crimes, including: extortion, wire fraud, bribery and conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

Fiore was so politically connected that in 2016, his daughter helped write an amendment to the Michigan Department of Transportation budget that ensured his company would win a multimillion-dollar contract, federal documents show. Along the way, Fiore appeared to have gotten help from Banks. "Fiore is involved in bid-rigging with legislator Brian Banks," Special FBI Agent Robert Beeckman wrote in 2016 affidavit, which included intercepted text messages and phone calls between Fiore and Banks.[16]

According to the affidavit, in a May 5, 2016, phone conversation, Fiore and Banks spoke about the MDOT contract when Banks mentioned Fiore's political "might." "MDOT said you have a mighty force behind you ... They said: 'We don't want to mess with that force,' " Banks said. Fiore responded: "Mmmmmm yeah. Does that mean, So what they doing with the deal then?" Banks: "So, you good so far. You hear me." On May 26, a phone call between Gasper Fiore and Banks again discussed the MDOT contract. “MDOT said you have a mighty force behind you,” Banks stated. Fiore laughed in response. “They said you – ‘We, we don’t want to mess with that force behind you.’” Later in the conversation, Banks again reassures Fiore: “You know with the MDOT, you good.”[17]

The conversation between Banks and Fiore was among many that the government obtained after bugging Fiore's phone last year.[18]

Campaign finance records show both Jennifer Fiore and Gasper Fiore donated to Banks House campaign against Pamela Sossi.[19]

Other controversies[edit]

Brian Banks has falsely claimed to be an attorney, leading Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon to endorse him.[20] Sheriff Napoleon’s spokesman Dennis Niemiec said the Sheriff was unaware of Banks’ felony convictions[21] and Sheriff Napoleon said he did not previously know about Banks' felonies. The State Bar of Michigan has no record of Banks ever being licensed to practice law in Michigan.[22]

Brian Banks campaign website previously stated that he was on staff at the law firm Rodnick, Unger and Kaner, P.C. and was an adjunct professor at Baker College.[23] An employee at Rodnick, Unger and Kaner, P.C. told the Huffington Post that while Banks briefly worked at the firm as a law clerk, he left after only a few months.[24]

Brian Banks has also claimed to be an elementary school teacher [25] and his biography on the Michigan House Democrats website listed him as a former elementary school teacher.[26] The Michigan Department of Education Online Educator Certification System states that Banks has never held an Educator Certification.[27] Michigan law prohibits convicted felons from being employed by a school, unless independently waived by the Superintendent and School Board.

During the 2012 General Election, the Grosse Pointe Democrats refused to endorse Brian Banks, despite his request for the endorsement and the fact that he was the Democratic candidate.[28]

Legislative accomplishments[edit]

During Brian Banks tenure in the Michigan House of Representatives, members of the Michigan Democratic Party had over 190 pieces of legislation signed into law. Despite being Chairman of the Detroit Caucus, 91 percent of Brian Banks bills died in committee during the same period of time. Only 2 of his bills ever received votes on the floor and neither passed into law.[29][30]

Political career[edit]

2012 Election[edit]

Despite a number of controversies, Brian Banks defeated Scott Benson by 96 votes to win the 2012 Democrat Primary.

2014 Election[edit]

Although only receiving 42% of the vote in the 2014 Primary, Banks was re-elected.

2016 Primary Election[edit]

During the August 2016 Primary Election, Brian Banks narrowly defended a challenge for his seat by Harper Woods attorney Pamela Sossi, a first time candidate.

Despite Banks significant fundraising advantage, Sossi led the race throughout the night until last minute votes were reported, giving Banks a narrow victory.[31] Sossi swept the suburbs, winning Harper Woods, Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Shores, while Banks won Detroit. According to the Detroit Free Press, the 1st House District Primary Election was the most competitive election in Wayne County.[32]

As the Chair of the Detroit Caucus, Banks was able to enlist the help of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan,[33] other lawmakers and interest groups in Lansing to raise $140,545,[34] second most of all candidates facing Primary challengers.[35] Records show that Banks major financial backers included Republican "Matty" Moroun (owner of the Detroit International Bridge Co.), State Rep. Andy Schor, Reynolds American, Rizzo Environmental Services and Gaspar Fiore.[36] Rizzo Environmental and Fiore would later be ensnared in a public corruption investigation by the FBI.[37]

2016 General Election[edit]

During the November 8 General Election, Banks received 66 percent of the vote over engineer William Broman, his Republican challenger.[38]

Resignation from Michigan House of Representatives[edit]

On February 6, 2017, just 26 days into his third term in the Michigan House of Representatives, Brian Banks resigned his seat to avoid prison time.[39] By 9 am, February 8, 2017, Banks was sending e-mails to supporters inviting them to a March 6 fundraiser for his PAC, Bank on Banks for Michigan, leading to speculation that he would be running for future office, or financially backing his chosen successor.[40] The fundraiser was held at Sinbad’s restaurant in Detroit, and advertised tickets starting at $50 and topping out at $5,000 for a platinum sponsorship.[41]

On February 16, 2017, Governor Rick Snyder called a Special Election to fill the vacancy left by Banks resignation. Both the Governor and the Secretary of State's office ruled that Banks was not eligible to run for his own seat, ending speculation that he might do so. Additionally, Representative Aaron Miller filed HB 4208 to ensure that expelled or resigned former members could not run in the Special Election called because of the vacancy they caused.[42]

2017 Special Election[edit]

During the Special Election held to fill the vacancy caused by Brian Banks resignation, Banks ran his childhood friend Tenisha Yancey against his 2016 Primary opponent, Harper Woods attorney Pamela Sossi.

Despite the reports about Yancey's violent past, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan again intervened to defeat Sossi.[43] Duggan aggressively campaigned for Yancey, even voicing a robocall on her behalf.[44] According to Mayor Duggan, the main reason he supported Yancey concerned Sossi's failure to support the Mayor's "D-insurance legislation." This legislation would allow automotive insurance coverage with reduced coverage for Detroiters, without guaranteeing a reduction in automotive insurance rates. The Mayor stated "I am very impressed with the way Tenisha Yancey turned her life around and became an accomplished prosecutor, and she is committed to supporting my initiative to reduce car insurance rates for Detroiters, whereas Pam Sossi was in the pocket of the medical providers and unscrupulous attorneys who are ripping off our residents." Curiously, Yancey's campaign distributed literature featuring a statement from Banks endorsing her — and bragging that he was very proud of opposing Duggan's D-insurance plan.[45]

As she did in 2016, Sossi again swept the suburbs winning Harper Woods, Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Shores. Unlike the 2016 Primary Election, Sossi also won Absentee Ballots.[46] Ultimately, Brian Banks was able to take advantage of unusually low voter turnout to utilize his political and financial network to guide Yancey to a 198-vote victory, ensuring that she would replace him in the Michigan House of Representatives due to the voter registration of the District.[47]

2018 Primary Election[edit]

In August 2017, Brian Banks filed candidate paperwork to run for the Michigan State Senate 2nd District seat in anticipation of a resignation by Bert Johnson, who has been federally indicted for corruption. According to the invitation obtained by the Detroit News, Banks is set to kick off his campaign with a Nov. 13 fundraiser at the American Serbian Hall in Detroit. Suggested contributions range from $41 for a ticket to $2,000 for a sponsor-level donor.[48]

Electoral History[edit]

2012 Michigan 1st House District Primary Election[49]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brian Banks 2,304 30
Democratic Scott Benson 2,208 29
Democratic Christopher Cavanagh 1,275 17
Democratic Valerie Kindle 1,235 16
Democratic Gregory Robinson 450 6
2012 Michigan 1st House District General Election[50]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brian Banks 27,843 70
Republican Dan Schulte 11,489 29
2014 Michigan 1st House District Primary Election[51]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brian Banks 3,140 42
Democratic Rebecca Thompson 2,645 36
Democratic Michael Koester 813 11
Democratic Taryn Jones 296 4
Democratic Harry Scott 159 2
Democratic Paul Fillmore 152 2
Democratic Corey Gilchrist 123 1
2014 Michigan 1st House District General Election[52][53]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brian Banks 15,992 67.27
Republican John Hauler 7,782 32.73
2016 Michigan 1st House District Primary Election[54]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brian Banks 3,293 44
Democratic Pamela Sossi 2,618 36
Democratic Washington Youson 573 7
Democratic Keith Hollowell 507 5
Democratic Corey Gilchrist 218 2
Democratic Kameshea Amos 211 2
2016 Michigan 1st House District General Election[55]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brian Banks 24,947 68
Republican William Broman 11,558 31

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Detroiters Elect Ex-Con Brian Banks As State Rep". CBS. 
  2. ^ "State Rep. Brian Banks faced eviction seven times in recent years". Fox 2 Detroit. 
  3. ^ "Shame On Banks, Or Shame On Us". Grosse Pointe Patch. 
  4. ^ "State House Candidate Brian Banks Evicted from Harper Woods Homes". Grosse Pointe Patch. 
  5. ^ "Brian Banks, Michigan State House Candidate And Ex-Felon, Faces New Legal Woes". Huffington Post. 
  6. ^ "Legislative aide sues Detroit Rep. Brian Banks for sexual harassment". M Live. 
  7. ^ "Former staffer of Rep. Brian Banks settles lawsuit". Detroit Free Press. 
  8. ^ Oralandar Brand-Williams, Chad Livengood and Jonathan Oosting (June 29, 2016). "Banks ordered not to leave state in felony case". Detroit News. 
  9. ^ Robert Allen (August 9, 2016). "Witness: State Rep. Brian Banks faked pay stubs for loan". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved August 10, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Rep. Banks battles primary foes, criminal charges". Detroit News. 
  11. ^ "Michigan Bureau of Elections Conclusion Investigation MCFA" (PDF). Michigan Secretary of State. 
  12. ^ "Brian Banks wants Michigan AG disqualified from case". Detroit Free Press. 
  13. ^ "State Rep. Brian Banks resigns from position, pleads guilty". Fox 2 Detroit. 
  14. ^ @GongwerMichigan (February 6, 2017). "Under the plea agreement, Rep. Banks will resign immediately with the felony charges dropped. He would plead guilty to a misdemeanor" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  15. ^ @kasbenal (February 6, 2017). "Banks just read his letter of resignation in the court room. Effective today" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  16. ^ Tresa Baldas and Keith Matheny (29 December 2017). "FBI wiretaps reveal how towing titan Fiore built his empire". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 4 January 2018. 
  17. ^ Tresa Baldas and Keith Matheny (29 December 2017). "FBI wiretaps reveal how towing titan Fiore built his empire". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 4 January 2018. 
  18. ^ Tresa Baldas and Keith Matheny (29 December 2017). "FBI wiretaps reveal how towing titan Fiore built his empire". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 4 January 2018. 
  19. ^ Violet Ikonomova (29 December 2017). "Reports: Detroit city councilman and former state rep. targeted in public corruption probe". Detroit Metro Times. Retrieved 4 January 2018. 
  20. ^ "8-Time Felon From Detroit Seeks Michigan House Seat". CBS. 
  21. ^ "Candidate for Michigan House seat is eight-time felon". WLMI. 
  22. ^ "State Bar of Michigan Attorney Search". State Bar of Michigan. 
  23. ^ "Brian Banks, Michigan State House Candidate, Has Eight Felony Convictions". Huffington Post. 
  24. ^ "Brian Banks' Bio On Campaign Website For Michigan State House Scrubbed Of Law Firm Employment". Huffington Post. 
  25. ^ "Shame On Banks, Or Shame On Us". Grosse Pointe Patch. 
  26. ^ "Biography For State Rep. Banks". Michigan House Democrats. 
  27. ^ "MDE Online Educator Certification System". Michigan Department of Education. 
  28. ^ "State House Candidate Brian Banks Evicted from Harper Woods Homes". Grosse Pointe Patch. 
  29. ^ "Legislative Session = 2013-2014; Chamber = House; Sponsor = Brian Banks". Michigan Legislature. 
  30. ^ "Legislative Session = 2015-2016; Chamber = House; Sponsor = Brian Banks". Michigan Legislature. 
  31. ^ "Despite legal challenges, Brian Banks wins primary fight". Lansing State Journal. 
  32. ^ "Despite legal challenges, Brian Banks wins primary fight". Detroit Free Press. 
  33. ^ "Despite legal challenges, Brian Banks wins primary fight". Lansing State Journal. 
  34. ^ "Where the money falls in Michigan's most crowded state House primaries". M Live. 
  35. ^ "Early Numbers: The Top Fundraiser Won 70 Percent Of Contested Michigan House Primary Races". Michigan Campaign Finance Network. 
  36. ^ "Donor Tracking". 
  37. ^ "Rizzo bag man strikes deal in Macomb corruption scandal". Detroit News. 
  38. ^ "Banks earns victory; GOP splits key races in Wayne Co". Detroit News. 
  39. ^ "Michigan Rep. Brian Banks used his seat as a plea bargaining chip, and justice was denied". Michigan Radio. 
  40. ^ "Banks resigns state seat then sends fund-raising e-mail". Detroit Free Press. 
  41. ^ "Ex-Rep. Banks plots new political fundraiser". Detroit News. 
  42. ^ "Snyder calls election; officials say Banks can't run". Detroit News. 
  43. ^ "Sossi cast aside by Duggan's growing political machine". Toledo Blade. 
  44. ^ "Candidates for Brian Banks' Seat Talk Character and Corruption". WDET. 
  45. ^ "Squished By The Duggan Machine". Detroit Metro Times. 
  46. ^ "Shores primary marked by unusually low voter turnout". C and G News. 
  47. ^ "Yancey on her way to November election in a race to replace former Rep. Brian Banks". Detroit Free Press. 
  48. ^ "Ex-Rep. Brian Banks running for state Senate". Detroit News. 
  49. ^ "Election Summary Report Primary Election - August 7th, 2012". Michigan Department of State. August 7, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2017. 
  50. ^ "Election Summary Report General Election - November 6th, 2012". Michigan Department of State. November 6, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2017. 
  51. ^ "Election Summary Report Primary Election - August 5th, 2014". Michigan Department of State. August 5, 2014. Retrieved December 1, 2017. 
  52. ^ "Election Summary Report General Election - November 4th, 2014". Michigan Department of State. November 4, 2014. Retrieved December 1, 2017. 
  53. ^ "2014 live Michigan election". mlive.com. November 4, 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2018. 
  54. ^ "Election Summary Report Primary Election - August 2nd, 2016". Michigan Department of State. August 2, 2016. Retrieved December 1, 2017. 
  55. ^ "Election Summary Report General Election - November 8th, 2016". Michigan Department of State. November 8, 2016. Retrieved December 1, 2017.