US Rep. Conyers' nominating petitions challenged

US Rep. Conyers' nominating petitions challenged

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(WJBK) - A rival's challenge to U.S. Rep John Conyers' nominating petitions could keep the veteran Detroit Democrat from seeking another term in Congress.

"I got a call out campaigning that there was some potential problems with the Congressman's petitions, that some of his circulators weren't registered voters," Rev. Horace Sheffield III tells FOX 2's Randy Wimbley.

Rev. Sheffield says he did not challenge the petitions needed to put Congressman Conyers on the ballot, but a staffer with his campaign did.

Sources tell FOX 2 when Daniel Pennington and Tiara Pitman turned in petitions to the County Clerk's office, flags were raised.

"A couple of the people in question didn't register to vote until this week," Rev. Sheffield says.

But, sources tell FOX 2 that's not the case for at least one of them, and they say a registration and voting certificate from the City Clerk's office shows Pennington registered as a qualified voter Dec. 13, 2013.

City Clerk Janice Winfrey told Wimbley via phone that Pennington and Pitman did not register to vote until yesterday.

"I said, well that's impossible because I, myself, registered them, so I know they registered," Chinita Terry tells Wimbley. She also collects signatures for Congressman Conyers and says the City Clerk's office may be to blame for Pennington and Pitman showing up as unregistered voters.

She says a worker at the city's Board of Elections told her they have "stacks and stacks" of paperwork from people that registered in June but have not been entered in the system yet.

Rev. Sheffield says he's not applauding the fact there could be hiccups in Congressman Conyer's campaign. He wasn't looking to contest these signatures, but rather was putting up a strong contest in this campaign.

Right now, it's unclear if this will derail Congressman Conyer's campaign, but one thing is clear - this is a mess that will have to be cleaned up as soon as possible.

UPDATED TO ADD: Congressman John Conyers released this statement on April 30, 2014: "I am pleased that the County Clerk has determined that there are a sufficient number of signatures to allow my name to appear on the ballot in the upcoming August 5th primary election. I look forward to a full and robust campaign in the primary and general elections."

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