It looks like it’s not just us and the local press asking questions about what Rep. John Conyers knew of the bribery scheme to which his wife pleaded guilty last week.
The Washington Post got in on the game yesterday — but it also offered a bit of detail about John and Monica Conyers’ marriage which may support the House Judiciary chair’s claim that he was in the dark.
First, a refresher on the piece of the Monica Conyers story that seems to come closest to touching her husband. In 2006, Jim Papas, a Detroit entrepreneur and supporter of Monica Conyers, hired Sam Riddle, a top Monica Conyers aide, as a consultant, and paid him $20,000. Riddle has said he did no work for the money and that Monica Conyers asked for half the money as a “finder’s fee.” A year later, in a what appears to have been a shift of position, John Conyers wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency in support of a Michigan waste-management project that would have benefited Papas.
Federal prosecutors have said they received “no suggestions” that John Conyers had any knowledge of the broader bribery scheme to which his wife has pleaded guilty.
In most marriages, that might seem faintly implausible. But the Post portrays the Conyers union as unusually distant. The paper reports:
Allies of John Conyers, who prizes his record of jousting with the Bush administration over its approach to civil rights and national security, say that he attends to few details outside his legislative duties and largely leads a separate life from his wife of nearly two decades.
And later it adds:
The marriage has been elusive from the start. The former Monica Ann Esters took a job in the lawmaker’s Washington office in the late 1980s, before moving on to work on his mayoral campaign. They married in 1990, a month before their first son was born in Detroit’s Grace Hospital. Conyers was marrying for the first time at age 61. Esters was 25. Her political ambitions were only beginning.
If John and Monica don’t share their lives in the way most married couples do, that could explain how he could have had no inkling of what she was doing.
If nothing else, the whole situation puts the veteran lawmaker in an odd position. After all, when else does a politician actually benefit from the press reporting that he and his wife lead separate lives?