Monday, October 31, 2016

FBI Director James Comey Begins Briefing Congressional Leaders on Clinton Email Review

Voting rights are also rights of elected officials.

When the public record is manipulated, in this case in congressional hearings, it must be amended, and investigated as the historic record is the rhyme and reason of the committee vote.

FBI Director James Comey has reached out to top Republicans and Democrats in Congress to brief them on the agency's review of newly discovered emails in connection to the investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server, congressional sources tell ABC News.
Comey spoke Saturday with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican of Virginia, and the panel's ranking Democrat, John Conyers of Michigan.

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cummings and Conyers Request Full Disclosure from DOJ and FBI on Email Investigation

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 28, 2016) – Today, Reps. Elijah E. Cummings and John Conyers, Ranking Members of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary, sent the following letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey:
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Friday, October 28, 2016

Longest-Serving Member of U.S. House Takes on Reluctant Republican in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District

In the race for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. a trio of challengers are attempting to unseat an incumbent who’s been a fixture in the U.S. House for half-a-century.
John Conyers, Jr. 1965

On the hot August night of Michigan’s statewide primary elections, the longest-serving member currently in Congress glances at the crowd in his campaign headquarters.

It’s a scene 87-year-old Democratic Congressman John Conyers has been familiar with since he won his first primary election en route to entering Congress in 1965.

Conyers at Gompers
Elementary School STEM Program
I was so exhausted after that day, just like today, that I went home and fell asleep,” Conyers said. “And people had to come over to my house to tell me I won the primary. It’s a different kind of
thing now.”

It’s different because, in many ways, Conyers has become a civil rights icon.

And even as he seeks his 27th term in Congress Conyers says he’s keeping an eye on the future.

Especially, he says, on increasing job opportunities in his district, which stretches from Detroit to Garden City. It’s an area saddled with rates of poverty and unemployment far higher than in much of the rest of the nation.

Conyers & Klinefelter
Conyers said, “See, when you say 5% unemployment, that means you have to skip the pockets of unemployment in Detroit that are 20%, 25%. And what we’ve got to do is work on programs that get into that.”

Yet Conyers past work on civil rights issues continues to endear him to supporters like Arthur Featherstone, who worked for the long-time Congressman alongside Rosa Parks in 1965.

Art Featherstone &
John Conyers
Featherstone says the Detroit Democrat, who is also now the longest-serving African American in the history of Congress, demands the respect of constituents.

“I’d tell ‘em to vote for him because of all the things he has done down through the years,” Featherstone said. “Like the Selma drive. In 1965, when they came over the bridge in Selma, about five minutes later Dr. King called. I said ‘Uh oh.’ And Dr. King told John to start a food drive for Selma. We raised two truckloads of clothes and food for Selma.”

Conyers is known as one of the most progressive Democrats in the House.

But at least one challenger for his seat says being a loyal liberal is not necessarily a good thing.

Conyers & Mayor of Westland, Bill Wild
Republican candidate Jeff Gorman is making his second consecutive bid to defeat Conyers.

Gorman said, “He is a rubber stamp for not just his party, but for the extreme part of his party.  And talking to the people, going door to door, ‘cause I’m doing it the hard way, going door-to-door, that’s not where the people of the district lie.”
Conyers & Michigan Governor
Rick Snyder

Gorman says he knows the usual criticism leveled at his opponent, that Conyers has grown too feeble, too distant from the needs of his district, too focused on national issues as the ranking member of the powerful U.S.House Judiciary Committee.
Gorman says he agrees with those arguments, but not the idea that Conyers’ seniority gives him, and by extension his constituents, extra clout in Congress.

This power thing that everybody touts, I don’t think that’s a thing,” Gorman said. “But more fundamentally what’s wrong with it is he’s been there for 50 years. I’m sorry, you can be clean as the driven snow coming there but eventually you’re corrupted in some way by being in the DC and you become part of the problem. I’m all for term limits. It’s an honor and a duty to serve there, (it’s) something that shouldn’t be a career.”

The Dean & POTUS
Gorman acknowledges the difficulty of dislodging someone with a half-century of name recognition.

But he also says the mood of the electorate, both nationally and in Michigan, is one seeking a change from traditional politicians. Gorman contends that feeling is drove the emergence of Donald Trump’s unconventional presidential campaign.

And Gorman says he can provide that change, vowing to weigh issues based on their individual merit, not their ideological significance.
(from left to right) Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Dean of the
U.S. House of Representatives John Conyers, Jr., greeting U.S.
President Barack Obama at Detroit Metro Airport 2016

In fact, Gorman says — especially in the Democratic bastion of Detroit — he’s campaigning as a somewhat reluctant Republican.

“I think it’s hard to run as a Republican,” Gorman said, “Not because of Trump. Just look at our own state here, our own state Republicans. We only just didn’t tell ‘em no but hell no about raising taxes to cover our roads. And they went ahead and did it anyhow. And it wasn’t a Democrat, it was a Republican that did that.”

Other candidates seem to view the race as a chance to publicize their political party as much as their campaign.

Challenger Tiffany Hayden is with Michigan’s Libertarian Party.

She writes in a web post that Conyers is no longer fit to serve because he’s been in Congress too long and does not respond to the needs of his constituents.

Hayden did not respond to repeated requests to be interviewed for this story.

Conyers other opponent, Working Class Party candidate Sam Johnson, declined to comment on his bid for Congress.

But other Working Class Party candidates say this election offers them the chance to introduce their populist group to the public.

That’s something the incumbent in the race does not need.

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CONYERS, JACKSON LEE Laud Additional Presidential Commutations

Conyers & Jackson Lee: Congress Must Pass Sentencing Reform

Washington, D.C. - House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) released the following statements after the White House announced the commutation of the sentences of 98 individuals this week:
Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“President Obama continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to addressing unfairness in our criminal justice system by commuting the sentences of 98 additional federal prisoners,” said Ranking Member Conyers.  “It takes strong leadership to address this issue, and I’m proud to have a President that supports commutations for sentences that are too lengthy and which no longer serve a legitimate purpose related to public safety.  I hope the President’s resolve on this issue will serve as an example to legislators in Congress and across the country as our nation works to reform our criminal justice system.  I remain optimistic that, before the end of this year, Congress will pass sentencing reform legislation and other criminal justice reform bills that I have worked on with colleagues on both sides of the aisle.” 

“I applaud President Obama’s commutation of sentences of 98 individuals – who were all victims of unjust sentencing,” said Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Jackson Lee.  “Nearly all of these men and women would have been released and contributing back to society already had they been convicted under today’s laws or reform proposals. I welcome and applaud the commutations of the sentences of these individuals.  Incarcerating people for unwarranted lengths of time serves no constructive purpose.  The President has recognized this, as has Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and I am pleased that the Administration’s Clemency Project continues to address the multitude of cases in which sentence reductions are appropriate.  Of course, the need to engage in such a broad review of sentences exists largely because our sentencing laws and policies, particularly for drug offenses, urgently need to be changed.  We need to eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing and let judges impose appropriate sentences based on the facts and circumstances of each case, and we should eliminate the higher penalties for crack cocaine relative to powder cocaine offenses.  I am heartened that there is a growing, bipartisan recognition of the problem of over incarceration and I hope this will lead to sentencing reform this Congress.”

Congressman Conyers and Congresswoman Jackson Lee are cosponsors of the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015, which is the first bill that is a result of the House Judiciary Committee’s criminal justice reform initiative.  The Sentencing Reform Act of 2015 reduces certain mandatory minimums for drug offenses, reduces the three-strike mandatory life sentence to 25 years, broadens the existing safety valve for low-level drug offenders, and provides judges with greater discretion in determining appropriate sentences.  

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CONYERS Statement On FBI Letter To Congress

Washington, DC – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) today released the following statement:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“There has already been a lengthy and thorough investigation into Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email server.  Nothing in today’s letter suggests that the FBI or the Department of Justice will reach a different conclusion than the one they reached months ago, when they decided criminal prosecution was unwarranted.  

“Any inference or conclusion to the contrary would be completely speculative and unjustified.  In fact, the press has already reported that the emails in question did not come from the Secretary’s server—and were not withheld from investigators by Secretary Clinton or her campaign.

“Donald Trump and his allies seem to put their faith in the integrity of the FBI only when it serves their political purposes.  I would expect that this investigation will continue to be impartial, and that this additional step—taken only in an abundance of caution—will further clear Secretary Clinton of any wrongdoing.”

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bipartisan Coalition Presses DOJ About Government Hacking

The United States Congress
File:Seal of the United States House of Representatives.svg
File:Alternative Senate seal.svg

Lawmakers Seek Answers About How Government Would Use New Hacking Authority, One Month Before Rule 41 Amendments Would Take Effect

Washington, D.C. –A bipartisan coalition of Senate and House lawmakers today asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to provide Congress with more information about a proposed expansion of government hacking and surveillance powers.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Judiciary Committee member Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., with House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Rep. John Conyers, Jr., D-Mich., and senior Judiciary Committee member Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, led a bipartisan group of 23 lawmakers asking for more information about the proposal, formally known as amendments to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal ProcedureUnless Congress acts, these new amendments are scheduled to go into effect on December 1.

“We are concerned about the full scope of the new authority that would be provided to the Department of Justice,” the lawmakers wrote. “We believe that Congress -- and the American public -- must better understand the Department’s need for the proposed amendments, how the Department intends to use its proposed new powers, and the potential consequences to our digital security before these rules go into effect.”

 The lawmakers ask DOJ a number of questions about how Rule 41 will be used, including:
  • How the government intends to prevent forum shopping by prosecutors seeking court approval to hack into Americans' devices;
  • How the government will prevent collateral damage to innocent Americans' devices and electronic data when it remotely search devices such as smartphones or medical devices;
  • Whether the government intends to use this new authority to search and “clean” Americans' computers ;
  • How the government will maintain a chain of custody when searching or removing evidence from a device;
  • How the government will notify Americans who are the subjects of remote government searches.
The letter was also signed by: Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. and Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah., Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Michigan Congressional Democrats Call On DOJ To Review Decision To Block Flint From Suing The State

Michigan – U.S. House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) and Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today led a letter signed by every Democratic House member of Michigan’s congressional delegation, calling for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to review the State of Michigan’s actions to block the City of Flint from suing the State in connection with the Flint Water Crisis.

As stated in the letter, in March 2016, the City of Flint filed a notice of intent to sue the State. Just a week later, the Governor-appointed Receivership Transition Advisory Board (RTAB) issued a recommendation requiring that it approve the initiation of any litigation by Flint, which was approved by the state treasurer.  The letter raises concerns about the lawfulness of Michigan’s actions and requests the Department of Justice to review whether denying the City of Flint the ability to seek legal redress from the State implicates constitutional due process, equal protection and associated environmental justice issues for the people of Flint.

In their letter, the Members wrote, “First, we are concerned that the state-appointed RTAB’s potentially unauthorized action to restrain Flint’s authority to initiate litigation and its apparent failure to adequately notify the City of the import of its actions may have deprived the City of Flint and its residents of constitutionally protected due process…Given the fact that Flint is a majority African American municipality, the denial of the City’s right to obtain judicial redress may therefore implicate the Equal Protection Clause…Third, we are concerned that the actions of the State may have violated principles of environmental justice, which are premised on notions of Equal Protection.”

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“Much remains to be done in the pursuit of justice for Flint residents and to ensure no other community suffers from the actions of unaccountable political appointees that they did not elect,” said Congressman Conyers. “The people of Flint must have their rightfully deserved access to legal redress, due process, equal protection under the law and associated environmental justice. I urge DOJ to thoroughly review actions by Governor Snyder and the Michigan Receivership Transition Advisory Board against the people of Flint. I will continue to monitor the situation in Flint in the months and years ahead.”

“The state of Michigan should focus on bringing clean drinking water to the people of Flint, not maneuvering to prevent them from accessing the judicial system,” said Congressman Kildee. “Our letter asks the Department of Justice to investigate the constitutional and environmental justice issues implicated by the State’s decision to effectively prevent the city of Flint from suing the state. Quite simply, this is wrong.”

The letter to DOJ was signed by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13), Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Congressman Sandy Levin (MI-09), Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (MI-14).

In March, Congressman Conyers introduced H.R. 4754, the Emergency Financial Manager Reform Act of 2016, to address unchecked decision-making powers that appointed emergency financial managers have in financially distressed cities which cause situations like the Flint Water Crisis.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

CONYERS & GOODLATTE Statement On The Resignation Of Maria Pallante

Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today issued the following joint statement after the announcement that Maria Pallante, the former Register of Copyrights, will be leaving the U.S. Copyright Office:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“We are saddened to learn that Maria Pallante, who served with distinction as only the 12th Register of Copyrights and the Director of the Copyright Office for the last five years, will be leaving the Copyright Office.  This will be a tremendous loss for the Copyright Office and for America’s creators, innovators, and users of copyrighted works.

“We have had the pleasure of working closely with Maria over the last few years as the House Judiciary Committee conducted a comprehensive review of U.S. copyright law to determine whether the law is still working in the digital age to reward creativity and innovation.  Maria has played an instrumental role in the Committee’s efforts.   We have welcomed her thoughtful testimony on copyright law and policy a number of times and closely studied the reports produced by her office.

“As Maria transitions from the Copyright Office, it is the perfect opportunity to examine the selection process for the new Register.  America’s creativity is the envy of the world and the Copyright Office is at the center of it.  We must ensure that any new Register is fully qualified to lead this important office as it continues to directly advise Congress on copyright policy and law.  The new Register of Copyrights should be dedicated to protecting creative rights and modernizing the Copyright Office.”

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

CONYERS Blasts New GOP Conspiracy Theory About Secretary Clinton's Emails

No factual evidence shows a quid pro quo between the Department of State and the FBI

Washington, DC – Yesterday, in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the House Judiciary Committee’s majority alleged that newly-released FBI interview notes “raise serious questions about whether Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy violated federal laws . . . by offering a ‘quid pro quo’ to the FBI.”  The interview notes contain no factual basis for these claims:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
§  As early as January 2016, the Inspector General for the Department of State concluded that there was no undue or inappropriate influence in the review and classification of Secretary Clinton’s emails. 

§  The FBI released a public statement that categorically rejects the accusation, noting that “[a]lthough there was never a quid pro quo, these allegations were nonetheless referred to the appropriate officials for review.” 

§  The now-retired FBI agent who spoke to Undersecretary Kennedy has told reporters that the two matters—staffing overseas posts and the classification review of Secretary Clinton’s emails—were wholly unrelated discussions, and no exchange or deal linking the matters was ever proposed.

§  FBI files released weeks ago explained that Undersecretary Kennedy “‘categorically rejected’ allegations that he attempted [to] influence FOIA markings to protect and/or mask classified information.”

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), today released the following statement:

“The FBI, the Department of State, and virtually every individual with firsthand knowledge of the pertinent facts have flatly denied allegations of any attempt to arrange a quid pro quo on Secretary Clinton’s behalf.  The FBI looked into the matter and found no evidence of any wrongdoing whatsoever.  There is no new factual information in these interview notes that would lead us to believe otherwise. 

“The majority will find few answers in unsupported and unsubstantiated speculation.  I hope that when we return to Washington in November, there is room for more substantive discussion.”

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A new vision for Detroit’s children

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Children growing up in low-income communities face many challenges. But there is one that should be simple to fix: making sure every child with vision problems has the glasses necessary to succeed in the classroom.
Seventeen percent of students screened last school year by the Detroit Health Department were identified as needing glasses, but less than 2 percent of those who failed the screening actually got glasses.
Many of these children struggle at school because they can’t see properly. One in five students have vision problems that can affect their ability to achieve in school, a number that amounts to nearly two million children nationwide. The problem is especially acute for children in low-income communities. One study in Los Angeles found that 95 percent of first-graders in low-income communities who needed glasses did not have them.
The impacts on these children are profound. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma than proficient readers. Studies indicate that vision problems not only lead to poor academic performance, but also tend to cause self-esteem issues and even anti-social behavior.
This should not be happening. Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Affordable Care Act all cover vision services for children. Every child is entitled under these programs to receive the glasses they need. The fact that millions of schoolchildren cannot see the board is actually about access to vision care, not coverage.
Thanks to the innovative work of community leaders in Detroit, the Detroit Public Health Department, the Detroit Public Schools and a Los Angeles-based nonprofit, Vision To Learn, recently announced the launch of a new program designed to get glasses to children in need.
This new public-private partnership will bring mobile vision clinics to the Detroit schools where children in need of glasses spend their days. Instead of hoping that children find their way to a doctor’s office for a vision screening, the vision center will come to the student. If a screened child needs glasses, he or she will be provided with a stylish pair of their choosing—at no cost to the family. This entire effort costs about $100 per child; it represents a sound and savvy investment in our future.
Our challenge is to make sure that this kind of effort is sustainable over the long term and can be spread to other communities in Michigan and across the nation. While Vision To Learn is launching this program in Detroit through generous philanthropic donations, there are limits to what charities can do. A successful and expanded program requires us to rethink how vision services can be delivered to children. We need to ensure we do so in a manner that is efficient and eligible for reimbursement by federal and state programs.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should take note of what’s happening in Detroit and determine how the federal government can help expand these critical vision services to other jurisdictions in Michigan and throughout the country. When philanthropic efforts are combined with the innovative thinking of local government leaders like those in Detroit, we achieve great things for our communities and our children.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Top House Dems Call for FBI Action on Trump Campaign’s Advance Knowledge of Ongoing Russian Cyber Hacking to Affect Election


Washington, D.C. (Oct. 14, 2016)—Today, Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, John Conyers, Jr., Elliot L. Engel, and Bennie G. Thompson, the Ranking Members of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, Judiciary, Foreign Affairs, and Homeland Security, issued the following statement in response to evidence that the Trump campaign apparently knew months beforehand about the hacking of emails from the account of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta:

“Troubling new evidence appears to show that the Trump campaign not only was aware of cyber attacks against Secretary Clinton’s campaign chairman, but was openly bragging about it as far back as August.  For months, we have been asking the FBI to examine links between the Trump campaign and illegal Russian efforts to affect our election, including interviewing Trump advisor Roger Stone.  In light of this new evidence—and these exceptional circumstances—we call on the FBI to fully investigate and explain to the American people what steps it is taking to disrupt this ongoing criminal activity.  Elections are the bedrock of our nation’s democracy and a model we hold out to the world, so we must counter any foreign or domestic efforts to threaten the integrity of our electoral process.” 

Roger Stone’s Public Statements About Upcoming Podesta Attacks

This past August, Trump adviser Roger Stone sent out messages on Twitter indicating that he had been informed personally about upcoming cyber attacks on campaign chairman John Podesta.

This followed:

On October 3, 2016, Stone tweeted:

Four days later, October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks publicly released emails illegally hacked from Podesta’s email account.

Roger Stone’s Public Statements About Backchannel Communications with WikiLeaks

Stone has stated repeatedly in public appearances that he communicates directly and through back channels with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

On August 8, 2016, Stone stated publicly that he communicated withAssange about the upcoming release of illegally-hacked emails.  Stone made these statements during a Republican campaign event while answering a question about a potential “October surprise.”

On August 13, 2016, Stone stated publicly that his own email accounts had been hacked “as soon as it became publicly known that I was in communication with Julian Assange.”

On October 12, 2016, Stone stated publicly:  “I do have a back-channelcommunication with Assange.”

Previous Letter to FBI About Allegations of Coordination Between Trump Campaign and Russians

On August 30, 2016, Reps. Cummings, Conyers, Engel, and Thompson sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey requesting that the FBI assess whether connections between the Trump campaign and Russian interests contributed to cyber attacks against the Democratic campaign organizations to interfere with the election.  The letter stated:  “It is unclear whether U.S. law enforcement authorities have interviewed Mr. Stone about his communications with Mr. Assange or about his knowledge of how WikiLeaks obtained the illegally-hacked documents.”

On September 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Judiciary Committee, but would not directly answer questions about any investigation regarding these matters.  Instead, he stated that the FBI is examining “just what mischief is Russia up to in connection with our election.”

On October 7, 2016, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security issued a joint statement concluding: 

“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.  The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.  These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process.  Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there.  We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

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CONYERS Applauds DOJ Decision To Collect Data On Use Of Force

Detroit, MI – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Justice announced plans to collect data on the use of force by law enforcement officers:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“As a longtime proponent of policing reform, I understand the importance that data collection plays as a tool for law enforcement accountability. Data collection is the foundation for accountability management and will help ensure that law enforcement officers can implement best practices to address accountability issues that have been at the center of protests for the past several years. This is a major step in the right direction, but there is more we need to do at the federal level to ensure comprehensive nationwide data collection as we seek to reform our current system of policing. I look forward to building upon the Department of Justice’s efforts as we work in a bipartisan fashion to strengthen a version of the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act which is currently pending before the Committee.”

Ranking Member Conyers introduced both the End Racial Profiling Act and the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act to help build trust and strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.  Conyers and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) are currently negotiating a version of the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act. In July 2016, Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers announced a bipartisan working group to examine the use of excessive force by police, aggression towards law enforcement, and public safety concerns related to these issues.

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

CONYERS Leads Effort for Diversity In Federal Reserve Bank Leadership

Washington, DC - Reps.  John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Ranking Member on the Judiciary Committee;  John Lewis (D-GA), a senior member of the House Ways & Means Committee; David Scott (D-GA), a senior member of the Financial Services Committee; and Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member on the Financial Services Committee, urged the Federal Reserve to conduct an inclusive, transparent search for the next President of the Reserve Bank of Atlanta, one that engages candidates from many diverse backgrounds.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
In a letter to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Thomas Fanning, Chairman of the Atlanta Fed, the Members emphasized the need for Federal Reserve policymakers to account for our nation’s grave racial disparities in terms of unemployment, wages, and income in the development of monetary policy, especially since the economic downturn severely damaged the already tenuous financial security of traditionally underserved communities.  In the sixth Federal Reserve district, where the new president will serve, unemployment and poverty rates for African-Americans, for example, are about double those for white Americans.

Presidents of the 11 other reserve banks have all worked for major financial firms or at the Federal Reserve before their appointments.  The Members urged the Fed to consider a wider range of backgrounds, including academia, labor, and non-profit institutions, to capture the perspectives of all Americans as they develop economic policy.  Since the appointment of Andrew Brimmer to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors by Lyndon Johnson, there have been only a few minority governors, and no African-American or Latino bank presidents have ever been appointed.  Currently there is one Asian bank president, Neel Kashkari, who heads the Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

report by the Center for Popular Democracy in February 2016 showed that the overwhelming majority of Reserve Bank directors and presidents are white, and there has never been an African-American or Latino Federal Reserve Bank president in the Fed’s history.  In May, 127 Members of Congress, led by Congressman John Conyers, Jr., signed a letter urging for more diversity and a greater focus on high employment in minority communities at the Fed. 

“Selecting the first African-American or Latino Regional Bank president would be a historic milestone for the Federal Reserve, and I greatly appreciate Chair Yellen’s focus on increasing diversity.  But given the Fed’s long history of prioritizing low inflation over job creation, the candidate also should be truly committed to full employment and possess deep knowledge of labor market disparities that too often leave workers, especially workers of color, behind,” said Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee and Chair of the Congressional Full Employment Caucus.

“With this search, the Federal Reserve has a unique opportunity to restore confidence in our financial system by including the perspectives and experiences of a wider range of Americans,” Rep. John Lewis said.  “Metro Atlanta was hit hard by the Great Recession, and many people in the South are still mired in poverty due to that downturn.  In light of recent crises, the Federal Reserve should look far and wide to find the best person for this important job, not only within its own network.  The Fed has a responsibility to ensure that the financial needs of the most vulnerable are considered within the policymaking process.”                                      

“The Federal Reserve has an opportunity to do something very significant with the recent retirement announcement of the current President of the Atlanta Federal Bank,” said Rep. David Scott.  “We’ve never had an African American Regional Fed president.  I’m asking the Federal Reserve to take this opportunity to make history.  We have many exceptionally qualified African Americans who can do this.”

In September, Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart announced his retirement, effective in February 2017.  To find a new president, the Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta will identify and consider candidates, who then must be interviewed and approved by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.  The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks and covers Georgia, Florida, Alabama, eastern Tennessee, southern Mississippi, and southern Louisiana.

Congressman Conyers launched the 32-member Congressional Full Employment Caucus in February 2014. Full employment is defined as the lowest possible unemployment rate that the economy can reach. Congressman Conyers has introduced several pieces of legislation to further that goal:  H.R. 1000, the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act of 2015, which would tax Wall Street speculation to guarantee a job or training to every American who wants to work; H.R. 3531The Full Employment Federal Reserve Act, which instructs the Federal Reserve bank to target a four percent national unemployment rate – the rate reached in the late 1990s; and H.R.3674The Labor Statistics Improvement Act, which would create a commission to ensure that unemployment statistics accurately reflect the reality on the ground for job seekers. The Congressional Full Employment Caucus serves as a platform and working group for Members of Congress who are dedicated to identifying solutions and advocating for legislative action to reduce unemployment. 

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