Election ban would be a new scandal

As the Rep. John Conyers-must-resign bandwagon begins to creak under the weight of its passengers, even Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader of the House, has called for him to step down. Conyers, in the light of multiple accusations of sexual misconduct made worse by his own admission he paid to cover them up, needs to resign his position.

But in reaction to Pelosi joining the chorus last week, Conyers lawyer Arnold Reed said, “Pelosi did not elect the congressman and she sure as hell will not pressure him to leave.”

The first part of that is exactly right. When Conyers resigns is up to his conscience. Whether he deserves to be in Congress is up to voters in his district. It is not up to Pelosi to decide who is qualified to serve in the House of Representatives.

Likewise, it is not up to Michigan legislators to determine who may or may not join their little club. Lawmakers have introduced legislation that would prohibit lawmakers who resigned or are expelled from the state House or Senate from running in the subsequent special election to fill the vacancy they created.

The measure stems from the Cindy Gamrat-Todd Courser fiasco in which the pair were forced out after conducting an affair in their legislative offices and then concocting a bizarre scheme involving made-up blackmail and worse. The whole torrid, tawdry mess is still making its way through the civil and criminal courts.

Along the way, the soap opera left its mark on the state House. Questions remain about who know what when, who could have put a stop to it before it became a circus and what exactly finally motivated leadership to do something about it. Things happened that we don’t know about. Deals were made. Bad politics happened.

Now, lawmakers want to make sure headaches such as Gamrat and Courser don’t come back. We don’t think they get to decide that. They didn’t elect Gamrat and Courser.

Anyone qualified to stand for election should be allowed to do so. And anyone who collects the majority of votes in that election should take his or her seat in the Legislature. Yes, there certainly are those who would never vote for either Gamrat or Courser, but that only matters if they are among the majority of voters. If either received the majority vote, it would not be the first time that a candidate won even though some, many or even most people found unpalatable.

Lansing isn’t the only place where officials are playing this dangerous and unconstitutional game. In Washington, Congressional leaders are talking about what they will or won’t do if Roy Moore is elected. There is only one thing they can do — comply with the will of the people who elected him, assuming there are enough voters who can stomach him.

— Times Herald (Port Huron)

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