There are 435 members of the House of Representatives. Of those, 242 are Republicans and 193 are Democrats (56% and 44%, rounded). So, statistically, if one were to select two members at random, the odds are at least one would be Republican. Or, even, if one were to take some odd, utterly nonpartisan criteria that only two of 435 met.
But there’s one very select caucus, one distinguishing criterion, one allegedly non-partisan trait that describes exactly two members of the House of Representatives — and they are both Democrats.
What do Representative John Conyers (D-MI) and Representative John Tierney (D-MA) have in common, besides their first names?
Wives who are headed to or already in prison for federal corruption charges.
Monica Conyers was on the Detroit City Council when she got caught taking about $60,000 in bribes from a company wanting a big, fat city contract. She was convicted and sentenced to 3+ years in the pen — which she’s currently appealing.
And Patrice Tierney… well, her case is a bit more complicated. She has a brother who’s a bit of a ne’er-do-well. He’s currently a fugitive abroad, wanted on gambling and money laundering charges. While he’s holed out in Antigua, though, he still wanted to meet his financial responsibilities here, so he got his sister to act as his de facto financial agent. He put money in a bank account, and she drew from it to pay his child support and other bills, helped him file tax returns, and various other things — while keeping a bit for herself for her trouble.
Which is where she ran into trouble with the feds. You see, she didn’t ask a few important questions while doing this — questions like “where is this money coming from?” and “since I’m signing off on these tax forms, is everything accurate?” She also apparently didn’t declare her fees/commissions/kickbacks/skimming on her own taxes.
At Tierney’s sentencing (where her husband stood by her side), the judge cited that it was her first offense and her husband’s position, stating that the “humiliation” was an additional punishment — and sentenced her to 30 days in federal prison — to be followed by five months of home confinement and 2 years supervised release. He also went way, way out of his way to state that in no way, shape, or form did Representative Tierney know that his wife had spent between $20,000 and $30,000 of her brother’s ill-gotten gains on things for herself and their family — including car payments and a cell phone plan. Nope, John was utterly clueless and completely unaware where all that stuff came from.
Which, considering his party affiliation, home state, and their attitude towards financial accountability, I really don’t have too hard a time buying.
So, will Mrs. Conyers and Mrs. Tierney end up cell mates? Will they decorate their cell with little donkeys carrying sacks of loot? Will their Congressmen husbands share a commute from DC to visit them? And will Congressman Tierney seek to join the Committee on the Judiciary, where Conyers has served as Ranking Member for years and oversees the Federal Bureau of Prisons, so they can help keep an eye on their “better halves?”
Only time will tell.