State House candidate Brian Banks may have bigger concerns than getting elected next Tuesday to represent Michigan's 1st District.
This past week Banks, 35, was evicted from the second of two homes he leased in Harper Woods and on Wednesday a judgment for $3751 was levied against him after checks he wrote to his landlord bounced.
Ira Auslander, attorney for Dan Sylvester, who is the owner of the home Banks rented for his campaign headquarters on Fleetwood Dr., said his client is keeping all his options open—including filing criminal charges. According to MCL 750.131, if Banks knowingly wrote a bad check over $500, he could be charged with a 2-year felony.
“That’s an option we have and we’re considering all our options,” Auslander said in a phone call to Patch.
It seems as though history may be repeating itself. Banks is an eight-time felon who has been convicted of passing bad checks and credit card fraud from 1998 to 2004, but he has said publicly that he’s turned his life around after earning a Master's degree and a law degree.
Last week, Michele Wood also evicted Banks from her mother’s rental home on Berden St., after taking Banks to court three times since February for failure to pay rent and bad checks.
“He’s a smooth operator. I don’t want to deal with him anymore—he’s a liar,” Wood said.
Wood said the credit union that Banks' checks were drawn on is also suing him.
Banks vacated the home on Berden last Friday, Wood said. She said he still owes her more than $1000 in back rent and court fees after she keeps his $1300 security deposit.
Banks has not responded to Patch's questions about the evictions and the judgment.
House Refusal to Seat a Possibility
The 1st District, which includes Grosse Pointe Shores, Grosse Pointe Woods, Harper Woods and part of Detroit, leans heavily Democratic and Banks could likely win against Republican candidate Dan Schulte, despite his recent legal troubles.
Banks would not be the first convicted felon to serve in Michigan’s legislature. Bert Johnson, who was convicted of armed robbery as a teen, has been re-elected to the House two times and is currently a state senator.
Still, even if Banks is elected, he could face resistance by fellow House representatives to seat him. Political analyst Bill Ballenger said it has happened before.
In the early 1950s, the Republican-controlled state Senate refused to seat Charles Diggs, Sr., a black Democratic legislator from Detroit who had been convicted of a felony, Ballenger said.
Ballenger also said he has spoken to a Democratic representative who doesn’t know what he’ll do if faced with the decision of whether or not to seat Banks.
Legislators will likely consider the 2010 amendment to the state's constitution that bars felons from holding state office if they have a conviction involving fraud or dishonesty in the last 20 years. As the crime must be related to the officeholder's official capacity, this rule may not apply to Banks. However, the constitution does permit either house to expel a member by a two-thirds vote.
Grosse Pointe Dems Deny Endorsement
Banks will not be endorsed by the Grosse Pointe Democrats said the organization’s president, Gary Bresnehan.
Bresnehan said the organization would not be endorsing Banks, despite Banks’ request for the endorsement and the fact that he is the Democratic candidate.
The group’s web page for candidate endorsements simply says that they refuse to endorse any candidate for the 1st District’s race.
No Forwarding Address
Both Auslander and Wood say Banks has left no forwarding address.
“I honestly don’t know where to find him,” Auslander said.
According to an Oct. 29 article by MIRS, “For now, Banks is using a P.O. Box address as his place of residence with the Wayne County Clerk's office but used the Fleetwood address for his state campaign finance documents.”
In an email, Patch asked Banks where he currently resides but he did not respond.
“I’m not voting for him, but the only way I’ll get paid is if he gets elected,” Michele Wood said.