- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DETROIT (AP) | Just months after spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to oust former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the beleaguered city of Detroit was spared another round Monday when City Council member Monica Conyers resigned her seat without a fight.

Conyers, 44, the wife of powerful and respected Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr., quietly had a staffer bring the City Clerk’s office a one-paragraph letter announcing her resignation three days after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery for her vote on a sludge-hauling contract. Monica Conyers did not respond to repeated requests for comment Monday.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Conyers knew nothing about his wife’s wrongdoing and that he has been cleared of involvement in the bribery case.

More than a year ago, Kilpatrick was confronted with stepping aside or being forced out as mayor over a text-messaging sex scandal. Conyers watched as Kilpatrick lost a monthslong fight to hang on to his position and eventually went to jail.

Conyers faced equally strong demands from colleagues to relinquish her council seat.

“What happened today was necessary. It was not something that was easy,” City Council President Ken Cockrel Jr. said.

Earlier Monday, before Conyers’ letter was delivered, Mr. Cockrel led a grim contingent of six council members calling for her resignation and threatening to otherwise force her from her $85,000-per-year post. Mr. Cockrel said he spoke to Conyers on Sunday and was told that she needed more time to make a decision.

Conyers’ surprise resignation, effective July 6, saved the council from hiring an outside lawyer and pursuing the same forfeiture of office proceedings that hounded Kilpatrick before his decision to plead in two criminal cases and walk away from the mayor’s office. Kilpatrick faced perjury, misconduct and obstruction of justice charges for lying to a jury during a 2007 whistle-blowers’ trial.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox also warned that he would take court action against Conyers if she refused to resign by Tuesday.

Conyers admitted Friday to taking bribes from Houston-based Synagro Technologies in exchange for her vote on a $47 million sludge hauling deal. The council voted 5-4 in favor of the Synagro contract with Conyers’ support. She faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine at sentencing.

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