- Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
- Member of the radical Progressive Caucus
- One of 13 founders of Congressional Black Caucus
- Has longstanding ties to the Democratic Socialists of America
- Advocates freeing convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal
- Plotted with radical Ramsey Clark and others about ways to impeach President George W. Bush
- Spoke in 2003 at anti-Iraq War rally of pro-North Korean Marxist group International A.N.S.W.E.R.
- Voted against a resolution stating that “the United States and Israel are now engaged in a common struggle against terrorism.”
- His district has a higher proportion of Muslims than any other in Congress, and his official congressional web site can be read in Arabic
- Spoke in 2005 at an event organized by accused anti-Semite Lyndon LaRouche
- Orchestrated letter-writing and media campaign over so-called Downing Street Memo with help from George Soros-funded MoveOn.org
Born in Detroit in May 1929, John Conyers, Jr. was a longtime Democratic Member of Congress who represented the 14th District of Michigan, a majority-black district which includes roughly half of Detroit, most of Dearborn (with America’s largest Arab-American community), and all of Hamtramck. Conyers chaired the powerful House Judiciary Committee from 2007-11, and he sat on several subcommittees at various times.
Conyers worked from 1959 to 1961 as a legislative assistant to Detroit congressman John Dingell, and from 1961 to 1964 as a politically appointed referee of the Michigan Workmen’s Compensation Department.
In 1964 Conyers ran for Congress, winning the Democratic Primary by 44 votes and the general election in a Democrat-gerrymandered district by more than 110,000 votes. Since then, he has been re-elected every two years; he is the second most senior member of the House of Representatives.
Conyers belonged to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and in 1969 he was one of 13 co-founders of the Congressional Black Caucus. His voting record, according to Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), tilted left between 90 and 100 percent of the time. In 2002 the National Journal ranked him as the most “liberal” member of the House of Representatives.
For an overview of Conyers’ votes on a variety of key issues, click here.
Conyers was the most prominent lawmaker lobbying to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted murderer of a Philadelphia police officer.
Conyers deliberately designed legislation to treat citizens of different skin colors differently. One such law required police officers to keep statistics on the race of people they question or arrest in order to discourage “racial profiling” of minorities.
Conyers authored a bill to study the economic harm suffered by descendants of slaves; his ultimate objective was to lay the groundwork for trillions of dollars in reparations to be given by U.S. taxpayers to black Americans.
Conyers described as one of his “major accomplishments” the “Motor Voter Bill of 1993,” which facilitates the voter registration of all who apply for a state driver’s license or for welfare or other government benefits. That legislation also has contributed heavily to voter-registration fraud.
In the 1980s Conyers strongly supported the Nicaraguan Sandinista dictatorship, writing in a March 7, 1986 letter published in the New York Times: backed by those Marxist powers. “There is more freedom and less brutality in revolutionary Nicaragua than in Central American countries supported by the [Reagan] Administration.”
Conyers long favored reducing or ending U.S. economic sanctions and travel restrictions against Fidel Castro’s Cuba, for whose Marxist regime Conyers in 1997 helped arrange an opportunity to lobby Congress in lawmaker offices on Capitol Hill.
In May 2002 Conyers was one of 17 House Democrats who voted against a Resolution (HR 392) expressing support for Israel as it faced terrorist attacks that had killed more than 600 civilians, including several Americans.
In January 2003 Conyers was the only member of Congress to speak before, and lend his prestige to, an anti-war rally organized by the Marxist-Leninist, pro-North Korean front group International A.N.S.W.E.R.
Two months later, Conyers privately convened and invited other members of Congress to a gathering that featured Ramsey Clark and more than two-dozen leftist attorneys and legal scholars; the purpose of the meeting was to discuss how to impeach President George W. Bush as a way to prevent military action against Saddam Hussein. Two decades earlier, Conyers had likewise proposed impeaching President Ronald Reagan.
In May 2005, Conyers published What Went Wrong In Ohio: The Conyers Report on the 2004 Presidential Election. Citing statistical incongruities between exit-poll results and actual votes registered, and alleging that many of the state’s electronic voting machines were faulty, this screed cast doubt on the legitimacy of George W. Bush’s electoral victory. Conyers was one of 31 House members who held that Ohio’s electoral votes should not be counted in the final tally.
On June 16, 2005, Conyers scheduled a media event to deliver to the Bush White House what he described as “over 540,000 signatures from Americans demanding a response from the Administration to the charges [that the U.S. and Britain tampered with intelligence reports about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs] set forth” in the so-called Downing Street Memo. Conyers publicized his efforts via a carefully orchestrated schedule of pre-arranged interviews with such media outlets as CNN, National Public Radio, and Air America Radio (most notably on programs hosted by Al Franken and Amy Goodman). Conyers also acknowledged the strong support his signature campaign had received from such weblogs as Raw Story, BradBlog, DailyKos, Democratic Underground, Progressive Democrats of America, and Moveon.org.
Conyers was a longtime ally of ACORN. In the fall of 2008, he said that ACORN was “a long-standing and well-regarded organization that fights for the poor and working class.” ACORN gave Conyers a 100 percent rating on its 2006 legislative scorecard, and in the summer of 2008 the congressman received enthusiastic applause as he addressed the group’s national convention in Detroit and denounced U.S. corporations as “capitalist predators.”
In June 2009, Conyers’ wife Monica, a Detroit City Council member, pleaded guilty to felony bribery charges.
In a July 2009 speech at a National Press Club luncheon, Conyers suggested that it was unimportant whether or not legislators read the 2,000-page health-care bill that was then being debated by Congress. Said Conyers: “I love these members [of Congress], they get up and say, ‘Read the bill.’ What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”
In March 2010, during the debate over health-care reform legislation, a media interviewer asked Conyers the following question: “The individual mandate in the bill requires individuals to purchase health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office [CBO] has said that never before in the history of the United States has the federal government required any one to purchase any good or service. What part of the Constitution do you think gives Congress the authority to mandate individuals to purchase health insurance?” To this, Conyers replied:
“Under several clauses, the good and welfare clause and a couple others. All the scholars, the constitutional scholars that I know — I’m chairman of the Judiciary Committee, as you know — they all say that there’s nothing unconstitutional in this bill and if there were, I would have tried to correct it if I thought there were.”
(Note: The U.S. Constitution does not contain anything called a “good and welfare” clause.)
In March 2013 Conyers spoke about America’s national debt and said: “Let me let you understand, first of all, that the debt is not endangering us a bit — not at all. Our economists say we’re in debt but it’s not endangering everything. As a matter of fact, there are economists that say some debt is not a bad idea at all. So all those ideas about the ceiling falling, the walls caving in because of that, you can sleep more comfortably in your bed at night when you realize that we don’t think there’s a problem.”
On October 21, 2013, Conyers stated that the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare) was “a very small and modest bill,” and that Congressional Democrats were already contemplating ways to pass “universal healthcare for everybody, single payer.” “That’s what the new direction is,” said Conyers.
In February 2016, Conyers spoke out in opposition to H.R. 3892, the “Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2015,” which sought to have the U.S. government formally identify the Brotherhood as a terrorist group. “[S]ince swearing off violence in the 1950s,” said Conyers, “the Brotherhood has become a predominantly non-violent religious, political, and social service organization.”
In November 2017. Politico.com reported on the following explosive revelations: “Buzzfeed [has] reported … that Conyers ‘repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sexual favors, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Conyers reportedly ‘used congressional resources to fly in women they believed he was having affairs with,’ according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed. Another Conyers aide ‘said she was tasked with driving women to and from Conyers’ apartment and hotel rooms.’ Conyers allegedly paid $27,000 in public funds to a female employee who contacted the secretive Office of Compliance with allegations about the Michigan Democrat.”
In court documents filed earlier in 2017, another woman, Maria Reddick, had accused Conyers of harassing her while she was employed as his scheduler.
On November 23, 2017, the prominent Washington attorney Melanie Sloan, who had worked for Conyers in the 1990s as Democratic counsel on the House Judiciary Committee, told the Detroit Free Press (DFP) that Conyers had repeatedly been verbally abusive to her during that period. According to the DFP: “[Sloan said] that Conyers constantly berated her, screaming at her and firing her and then rehiring her several times. She said he criticized her for not wearing stockings on at least one occasion. On another, she said he ordered her backstage from a committee field hearing on crime she had organized in New York City to babysit one of his children. Sloan made clear that she did not feel she had ever been sexually harassed, but that she felt ‘mistreated by this guy.'” “His constant stream of abuse was difficult to handle and it was certainly damaging to my self-respect and self-esteem,” Sloan added. “It made me increasingly anxious and depressed about going to work every day. And there was no way to fix it. There was no mechanism I could use, no person I could go to.”
The DFP report also stated: “Sloan said that she approached several people, including committee staff, a reporter, and a high-ranking member of then-House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt’s staff about Conyers’ behavior but was told nothing could be done…. Sloan told the Free Press that she never saw any inappropriate sexual touching but that Conyers … seemed to have a lot of what she characterized as girlfriends around…. [S]he said that on one occasion, she was called to Conyers’ office in the Rayburn House Office building for a meeting and, when she got there, he was in his underwear. ‘He was just walking around in his office, not dressed,’ she said. ‘He wasn’t doing it to hit on me. It was more like he could do what he wanted. I was quite shocked by it and left quickly.’”
On November 26, 2017, on ABC’s “This Week,” newswoman Cokie Roberts said that Conyers’s reputation for sexual harassment had long been an open secret among the Washington press corps: “I mean, the culture of Capitol Hill for so many decades was men being bad. And … The fact that people are willing to be public can change things. I mean, we all talked about for years. ‘Don’t get in the elevator with him,’ you know, and the whole every female in the press corps knew that, right, don’t get in elevator with him. Now people are saying it out loud. And I think that does make a difference.”
On November 28, 2017, Deanna Maher, who had served Conyers as a congressional staffer (including a stint as deputy chief of staff) from 1997-2005, said that she had experienced three incidents of sexual misconduct by Conyers, including one in which she refused his request for sex at a Washington hotel. Two of the incidents, she stated, involved Conyers touching her inappropriately.
On December 4, 2017, another former (longtime) employee of Conyers, Elisa Grubbs, said in an affadavit: “Rep. Conyers slid his hand up my skirt and rubbed my thighs while I was sitting next to him in the front row of a church. I was startled and sprang to my feet and exclaimed, ‘He just ran his hand up my thigh!'” — an event that other staffers witnessed. Grubbs also claimed that she had seen Conyers touching and stroking the legs and buttocks of other female staffers on “multiple occasions,” stating that such harassment “was a regular part of life while working in the office of Rep. Conyers.” Moreover, Grubbs alleged that Conyers, on another occasion, emerged from the bathroom naked knowing that Grubbs was in his house.
On December 5, 2017, Conyers announced, amid the mounting scandal, his retirement from Congress. He also endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to be his successor. In his resignation letter, Rep. Conyers said: “I’ve been a champion of justice for the oppressed and the disenfranchised.”
Shortly after Conyers’s retirement announcement, yet another woman stepped forward with sexual-misconduct allegations against the congressman. The accuser, Delores Lyons, claimed that when she had served as a volunteer for Conyers from 2010-14, Conyers touched her buttocks on one occasion, and placed her hand on his crotch in a separate instance when she was driving with him. “This seemed to be a game to Rep. Conyers as he thought he could cop a feel wherever and whenever he wanted and no one would ever do anything about it,” Lyons recalled. Lyons also claimed that a woman named Marion Brown, a cousin of Elisa Grubbs, had “confided in me on multiple occasions that Rep. Conyers repeatedly made sexual advances toward her.” “Rep. Conyers black balled Ms. Brown and ruined her political career because she rejected his inappropriate sexual advances,” Lyons said in an affidavit.
John Conyers served many years as an Executive Board member of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Detroit chapter (starting in 1964), and of the NAACP’s Detroit chapter (starting in 1963). He was also a member of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a National Executive Board member of the National Lawyers Guild, and an Advisory Committee member of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Conyers had longstanding, close ties to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). In March 1982, he was a special guest at the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee/New American Movement Unity Convention held in Detroit, an event that resulted in the formation of DSA. In 2003 he was a keynote speaker at the DSA national conference in Detroit. And in 2005, the DSA publication Democratic Left called Conyers “a key D.S.A. ally in Congress.”
Author and broadcaster Larry Elder writes that when a reporter once asked Conyers why the majority-black “Eight Mile Road” section of his own congressional district was overrun with crime, poverty, drug abuse, and out-of-wedlock births, while a majority-Arab neighborhood in nearby Dearborn was thriving economically. Conyers replied: “Racism.”
Conyers died on October 27, 2019, at his home in Detroit.