Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Detroit Democrat Candidate Allegedly Reneges On Pay to Pray For Votes Arrangment

A nice corrupt little game in Detroit involving Democrat candidates going into churches during services to pray for votes, in return for cash to a "church lady" for access and one candidate allegedly reneges on the fee and the whole thing gets brought to light.

The Detroit Free Press: Detroiter sues 36th District Judge Wanda Evans over church speeches

She’s known as the church lady — and she’s sticking it to a judge.

Detroiter Jean West, who has spent four decades helping political and judicial candidates land speaking engagements at Detroit churches, is suing 36th District Judge Wanda Evans, claiming Evans stiffed her on a $3,500 bill during last fall’s election.

The 77-year-old plaintiff, a retired nurse who dived into politics after helping the first black woman get elected to Detroit’s City Council, called it a first. Never in her 43 years of working on campaigns had she ever gone unpaid, she said, despite her old-school methods.

When candidates seek her services, West brokers deals with a verbal contract and a handshake, promising to get them into as many Detroit churches as possible. And when she wants to get paid — her typical fee is $350 per week — the clients meet her in her backyard or at her dining room table and pay her, usually in cash.

No invoices. No formal contracts. She gets paid.

Not so with Evans, said West, claiming she helped Evans tap into huge voting blocks by getting her into senior buildings and block club meetings and as many as four churches a Sunday. At the time, she said,

It's also an interesting expose about what "community organizing" really means - pay to play for access and endorsements for votes.

According to religious, political and judicial figures, she’s the go-to person for anyone who is running for office and wants to speak in front of church crowds.

Her first taste of politics came in the 1970s, when she met and volunteered for Erma Henderson, the first black woman elected to city council in Detroit. Next, she volunteered for former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young. Scores of other candidates followed: Bill Lucas, Geoffrey Fieger, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Sheila Cockrel and numerous judges, including Connie Marie Kelley and Mary Waterstone, who gave her the nickname: “More than a church coordinator.”

West was connected to the pastors, and the candidates knew it.


West also noted that she was returning a favor to Evans, who had sent her clients in past elections. For example, she said, it was Evans who steered former State Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway her way when Hathaway ran for judge.

“I was her church lady,” West said of the now imprisoned Hathaway, who pleaded guilty in January to bank fraud.

Of course, had this been a white Republican campaigning in churches to get out the vote during services, I'd expect the ACLU might raise a bit of fuss about these pay to pray arrangements. I'd also be unsurprised if an IRS inquiry over all this cash changing hands took place. However considering this is a connected Democrat community organizer turning out the church vote for cash, I doubt much will come of it.

My bet, this scandal will be in the paper maybe one more day, then it'll fade away, and the Dems will be back to business as usual in Detroit.

Hat Tip to Murphy's Law for telling me about the story last night.

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