The election results are stirring controversy beyond the presidential level.
Democrats in Michigan celebrated a victory when Brian Banks won the Michigan State House race for District 1 in a landslide. However, Banks’ record as an eight-time felon has some citizens questioning his judgment.
Banks was convicted of credit card fraud and writing hot checks eight times between 1998 and 2004. The new state representative has owned up to his mistakes.
“Yes, I’ve made many poor decisions, and yes, I have a record, but that’s exactly what it is, my past,” Banks said. “I would ask them to look at what I’ve accomplished professionally and academically, since my poor decisions.”
The 35-year-old, whose campaign slogan was ironically “You can Bank on Banks,” defeated Republican Dan Schulte 86 percent to 32 percent in the newly drawn District 1. The area is comprised of Detroit’s east side known as Harper Woods as well as Grosse Pointes, home to Detroit’s affluent.
“You can’t be an attorney or doctor with a felony, and I don’t think you can teach elementary school with a felony,” Schulte told local newspapers earlier this year. “If you can’t do any of those things, I don’t know why you can be a legislator.”
During the election, Banks openly discussed his criminal past which included writing a bad check in Grosse Pointe Woods, an area he will now serve.
He has a law degree and is currently pursuing his PhD.
In 2010, Michigan voters agreed to an amendment prohibiting anyone convicted of a felony in the past 20 years from running for public office. However, the felony must be “related to the person’s official capacity while holding any elective office.”
Banks drew support from unions such as the United Auto Workers. He was also endorsed by Wayne County Sherriff Benny Napoleon until Napoleon found out about Banks’ past convictions.
Banks is not the only one in the Michigan legislature with a criminal history. In 1993, State Sen. Bert Johnson was convicted of armed robbery in Detroit at 19-years-old.