DETROIT (WWJ) Among the new group of state lawmakers to emerge from Election Day on Tuesday is Brian Banks, who has been convicted eight times for felonies involving bad checks and credit card fraud.
Banks, a Democrat and lifelong Detroiter, won a seat in Lansing as a state representative for the 1st District, representing the east side of Detroit, Harper Woods, and the tony Grosse Pointes. He won 68 percent of the vote to Republican Dan Schulte's 32 percent.
Banks, 35, was convicted eight times between 1998 and 2004 of writing bad checks and credit card fraud.
His slogan was "You can Bank on Banks."
"It's time to elect a leader, with experience and passion, who will fight for you," he wrote on his website.
Michigan voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2010 that bans anyone convicted of a felony in the last 20 years from running for office -- but the caveat is the conviction has to be "related to the person's official capacity while holding any elective office." This is Banks first run at elected office.
Banks' website says he's a lawyer and adjunct professor, though he doesn't say where, and uses his law degree to provide "free legal assistance to indigent clients." He's said in published reports he changed his ways after his latest conviction eight years ago.
He was endorsed by his pastor Mark Holloway at Peace & Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, and a variety of unions including the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters & Millwrights, the Michigan Education Association, Pipefitters Local 636, Teamsters Local 299, and UAW Region 1A.
"He is an educator, law graduate, community leader and visionary. Brian Banks has risen to prominence in spiritual, community and academic arenas – against the odds," his site says.
He told WWJ Newsradio in September that he had made "many poor decisions," adding "I would ask them to look at what I've accomplished professionally and academically, since my poor decisions."
Banks was one of two candidates with unusual pasts elected in Michigan on Tuesday. Reindeer farmer Kerry Bentivolio, who once said in a deposition he wasn't always sure if he was himself or Santa Claus and whose brother described him as "mentally unbalanced," won the House seat in Michigan's 11th District.
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