Monica Conyers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Monica Conyers
President of the Detroit City Council
In office
September 18, 2006 – May 11, 2010
Preceded byKenneth Cockrel Jr.
Succeeded byKenneth Cockrel Jr.
Personal details
BornMonica Ann Esters
(1965-10-31) October 31, 1965 (age 53)
Detroit, Michigan
Spouse(s)John Conyers

Monica Conyers (born October 31, 1965) is a former Detroit City Council member (D) and former president pro tempore of the City Council.[1] She was first elected to the Detroit City Council in 2005


Monica Ann Esters was born in River Rouge, Michigan, on October 31, 1965. She had four brothers and one sister. She grew up with her mother in west Detroit and attended Henry Ford High School. One brother was imprisoned for robbery, another for weapons violations, and her father had a record for breaking and entering.[2] Conyers attended the University of the District of Columbia School of Law and received a Juris Doctor. She also earned a master's in Public Administration from Central Michigan University and a bachelor of arts in Secondary Education and Political Science from Bennett College.

Before being elected to the council, she worked as both a teacher for mentally challenged teens and vice administrator for Detroit Public Schools. She married John Conyers on June 4, 1990 (she was 25, he was 61). They have two sons, John James Conyers III and Carl Edward Conyers.

At midnight on September 19, 2008, former council president Kenneth Cockrel, Jr., became mayor of Detroit following the resignation of Kwame Kilpatrick. On the same day, Monica Conyers made her full transition from president pro tem of the city council to President. She returned to being president pro tem after interim Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. was defeated by Dave Bing in a special election held on May 5, 2009. Although Conyers initially wanted to investigate whether the city charter guarantees that position (which it does),[3] she did not fight the position of the council's legal analyst that Cockrel would return to the position of Council President.[4]

In October 2015, the Detroit Free Press reported that she had filed for divorce in Wayne County Circuit Court from September 3, 2015, after 25 years of marriage.[5] The filing cited "a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved."

Positions and votes[edit]

Conyers has sometimes made headlines for breaking with her colleagues in the Michigan Democratic Party and the city council (which consists entirely of Democrats). She was critical of the party for running ads in a mayoral race in Flint, Michigan.[6] During the lengthy legal and political crisis of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Conyers was the only member of council to vote against a resolution demanding that he resign.[7]


Synagro bribery scandal[edit]

On June 16, 2009, it was announced that Conyers had been linked to an ongoing corruption investigation in Detroit, involving alleged bribes offered by Synagro Technologies. Originally, case documents had referred only to "Council Member A" receiving bribes totaling more than $6,000 to influence passage of a contract with the city, but on June 16 the United States Attorney's Office confirmed that two Synagro representatives had named Conyers as the recipient.[8][9]

Conyers was given a pre-indictment letter and offered a plea deal in the case.[8] On June 26, 2009, Conyers was charged with conspiring to commit bribery and pleaded guilty.[10]

On June 26, 2009, Conyers pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe in the Synagro Sludge scandal.[11] Three days later, Conyers officially resigned from the Detroit City Council, effective July 6.[12] Her former chief of staff, Sam Riddle, faced prosecution as well; Riddle's trial has included wiretap recordings of conversations with and about Conyers, in which he describes her as "crazy."[13] Testimony given during Riddle's trial on February 4, 2010 indicated that Conyers often left a downtown Detroit restaurant without paying for the meal; the restaurant's owner estimated that Conyers owed him about $3,000.[14] On March 10, 2010, Conyers was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison.[15] During the sentencing hearing, Conyers requested to withdraw her guilty plea, which the judge denied.[16] She filed notice to appeal.[17]


In January 2009, Detroit's General Retirement System notified Conyers that she owed $5,600 to the city, which included travel advances not spent on business class airfare to London. The pension board also claimed she hadn't submitted receipts for trips to Grand Cayman and Philadelphia.[18]

In April 2009, one day after denying the relation, Conyers admitted she helped her brother, Reggie Esters, a convicted felon, obtain a city job that was originally to last four months, but was extended to two years, ending only when Esters' absenteeism became an issue. Esters is reported to have submitted a false resume.[19]

Personal/professional conduct[edit]

In February 2008, details of an exchange between Conyers and an aide to Mayor Kilpatrick, DeDan Milton, were made available through The Detroit News.[20] Conyers allegedly made reference to a gun in an argument with Milton. Conyers has denied the allegations. The police reports have since been withdrawn.[21]

In April 2008, Conyers got into an argument with City Council President Ken Cockrel, Jr. during a public hearing. Cockrel reprimanded Conyers for interrupting fellow councilwoman JoAnn Watson, and Conyers then turned on Cockrel. The argument escalated until Conyers referred to Cockrel as "Shrek", after the animated film character.[22] Cockrel tried to call for a recess, but Conyers continued hurling insults. Video of the incident exists on YouTube.[23]

In February 2009, Conyers was involved in a confrontation with fellow council member Kwame Kenyatta. After Kenyatta insisted that Conyers submit in writing her request to cut his budget, Conyers insulted Kenyatta about his hearing aid, health, and lack of education. Conyers stated that Kenyatta needed to "learn how to talk a woman", to which Kenyatta replied that when he was with a woman, he will do so. Conyers then had to be restrained by a council staffer and a council security officer as she attempted to approach Kenyatta.[24] Conyers later sent an apology letter, which was rejected by Kenyatta as, to him, it seemed insincere.[25] Conyers subsequently said that re-election "might not be worth it" in view of the constant public criticism of her.[25]

In February 2009, the Detroit Free Press editorial board opined that Conyers was no longer fit for office due to her increasingly "volatile" behavior.[26]

In March 2009, Conyers led a group of five Detroit City Council members that blocked the transfer of ownership of Detroit Cobo Hall (the home of the North American International Auto Show) to a regional authority consisting of representatives from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties. During a heated council meeting discussing the deal, she told Isaac Robinson, a white official of the Teamsters union, that most of the people that work at the show "don't look like me. They look like you."[27] She was quick to deny any implications of racism to the media when questioned about the comments. Conyers went on to claim "Black people cannot be racist".[28]

The subject reportedly lost her weekend radio show job at 910 AM Superstation (WFDF-AM) primarily for unapproved hotel lodging expenses in March 2017.[29]


Monica Conyers served just over 27 months of her 37-month sentence, at the Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia for her conviction in the bribery scandal.[30] She was released on December 21, 2012 to a residential re-entry program in the Detroit area[31] and was released to home confinement in the Detroit area on January 25, 2013. Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Ed Ross said Conyers earned 108 days of credit for good behavior and was released from federal custody officially on May 16, 2013.[32]


  1. ^ "Detroit City Council". Archived from the original on 11 July 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  2. ^ Josar, David; MacDonald, Christine (June 27, 2009). "Conyers' behavior puzzling, her friends say". Detroit News. Retrieved 2010-03-13.
  3. ^ Patton, Naomi (May 7, 2009). "Conyers gears up for a fight over control of Detroit City Council". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on May 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
  4. ^ Patton, Naomi (May 9, 2009). "Cockrel can lead council again". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2009-05-10.[dead link]
  5. ^ Tresa Baldas (October 2, 2015). "Monica Conyers files for divorce from Rep. John Conyers". Detroit Free Press.
  6. ^ "Monica Conyers: Dems should stay out of Flint race", The Flint Journal, November 2, 2007.
  7. ^ "Embattled Detroit mayor rejects City Council's request for him to leave office", Associated Press, March 18, 2008.
  8. ^ a b "Conyers offered deal in bribery probe". Archived from the original on 2011-06-08. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  9. ^ "Detroit councilwoman under scrutiny, scolds media". Retrieved 2009-06-18.
  10. ^ Swickard, Joe; Ben Schmitt; David Ashenfelter (2009-06-26). "Monica Conyers pleads guilty to conspiracy". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on June 29, 2009. Retrieved June 26, 2009.
  11. ^ Paul Egan,Detroit News June 26, 2009 [1] Monica Conyers guilty in Synagro bribery scandal
  12. ^ David Josar and Darren A. Nichols, "Conyers to resign from Detroit City Council on July 6", Detroit News, June 29, 2009.
  13. ^ "Jurors in Bribery Case Get to Hear Riddle's Take on Conyers". January 26, 2010.
  14. ^ "Eatery owner: Conyers often walked out on check". February 4, 2010. Archived from the original on February 7, 2010.
  15. ^ Associated Press, "Ex-Detroit councilwoman gets 3 years for bribes," by Ed White (March 10th, 2010 - retrieved on March 10th, 2010).
  16. ^ "Monica Conyers gets 37 months in prison in Synagro bribery scandal". March 10, 2010.
  17. ^ "A fuming Monica Conyers seeks appeal". March 11, 2010.
  18. ^ MacDonald, Christine (2009-01-24). "Conyers pays for travel advance; Council president returns $3,000 to retirement system, but she may still owe $2,600". Detroit News. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  19. ^ Detroit News, 3 April 2009, Conyers acknowledges ex-con brother after denying him
  20. ^ "Report says Monica Conyers made threat". Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  21. ^ Pension board police reports withdrawn
  22. ^ "Monica Conyers Calls Council President Ken Cockrel Shrek". Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  23. ^ ReppintheD (11 April 2008). "Monica Conyers, Ken Cockrel Outburst". Retrieved 21 November 2017 – via YouTube.
  24. ^ Gorchow, Zachary (2009-02-11). "Insults escalated in spat between Conyers, Kenyatta". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on February 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  25. ^ a b Gorchow, Zachary (2009-02-12). "Monica Conyers: Re-election might not be worth it". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on February 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  26. ^ "Three strikes against Conyers". Detroit Free Press. 2009-02-11. Archived from the original on March 12, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  27. ^ Macomb Daily News, March 6, 2009, Cobo dispute reopens racial rift
  28. ^ Carol Cain, Detroit Free Press, March 29, 2009, Conyers sparks reaction on race, Cobo
  29. ^ Balderas, Tresa. (23 March 2017). "Radio station: Monica Conyers was fired over $750 hotel booking for funeral". Detroit Free Press website Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  30. ^ Prosecutors: Monica Conyers must stay at Camp Cupcake Retrieved 2011-10-28
  31. ^ "Monica Conyers released from prison". Detroit Free Press. December 21, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  32. ^ Tresa Baldas (February 5, 2013). "Monica Conyers, Sam Riddle out of prison in time for Kilpatrick corruption verdict". Detroit Free Press.