The John Conyers Abdication
On Tuesday, Representative John Conyers (D., Mich.) announced that he would “retire” from Congress, effectively immediately. Conyers, who has spent the last 53 years in office — Bonanza was the top-rated television show in America the year he joined Congress — didn’t exactly retire: he actually resigned in disgrace, thanks to allegations of sexual harassment and abuse. The most recent allegation: A woman says Conyers groped her in church. In church. He stepped down only because news broke that taxpayers had been footing the bill for his games of footsie. But fear not: The city of Detroit shall not go without a Conyers. The Old Man appointed his son, 27-year-old John Conyers III, to run in his stead.
Americans love to mock the British for their addiction to royalty. But the fact is that we have created our own version of royalty in our politics, right down to inheritance and droit du seigneur. Detroit is a kingdom; the Conyers family are its bosses. John himself has been in the political limelight for corruption before: He was probed by the House Ethics Committee after three staffers accused him of using them as personal servants and babysitters and forcing them to work on state and local campaigns. Naturally, the committee let him slide in 2006 with a pledge to treat his staff in accordance with the rules. He won 85 percent of the vote that year. The Conyers royal court has been granted similarly favorable treatment. The king’s queen, Monica, served on the Detroit City Council — before she was convicted of bribery for taking cash in exchange for voting on a $47 million waste contract. The king mysteriously reversed his opposition to that project; according to Judicial Watch, in 2009 “Conyers even wrote the federal government a letter supporting the plan and pushing for the permit transfers required for the hazardous waste injection well in the city of Romulus, Michigan. The letter, addressed to the Environmental Protection Agency, explained that ‘many things had changed’ in favor of the project since he stood in opposition to it.”