Michigan Political Bedfellows: Santa Claus and the Thief

Michigan Political Bedfellows: Santa Claus and the Thief

Things are strange in Michigan these days.

In Michigan’s 11th district, Republican Kerry Bentivolio won the election to replace Thaddeus McCotter for the House seat. Bentivolio has a strange resume, to say the least.

He was an auto designer, teacher and U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard veteran, but after building a home to sell, he owed $620,000 to a bank and more than 30 vendors. Declaring bankruptcy in 1992, he created a business called Old Fashion Santa, where he appeared as Santa Claus.

“After dusting myself off after a terrible bankruptcy 20 years ago, I created a part-time family-oriented business now entering its 18th profitable year,” his website reads. Bentivolio raises reindeer on his farm and moonlights at events as Santa Claus. When he was embroiled in a lawsuit with a vendor over the money he owed, Bentivolio protested, “I have a problem figuring out which one I really am, Santa Claus or Kerry Bentivolio. All my life I have been told I’m Kerry Bentivolio, and now, I am a Santa Claus, so now I prefer to be Santa Claus.”

Bentivolio filed for bankruptcy, but Michigan’s other noteworthy addition to the electoral process, Brian Banks, has gone farther than that. Banks, a Democrat, has been convicted eight times for felonies which include writing bad checks and credit card fraud. Banks won the 1st District’s seat, which is comprised of eastern Detroit, Harper Woods, and the wealthy suburb Grosse Pointes, as a state representative. This flew in the face of Michigan’s 2010 constitutional amendment that anyone convicted of a felony in the last 20 years is ineligible for office, but it worked because the felony had to be committed while the person was in office, and this is the first elective seat for Banks.

Banks is a shady character; his website claims he’s a lawyer and adjunct professor, but there is no reference as to where. He was endorsed by numerous unions (there’s a shock) including the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters & Millwrights, the Michigan Education Association, Pipefitters Local 636, Teamsters Local 299, and UAW Region 1A.