LANSING - House Democrats today urged passage of their package of bills which would provide tough new reforms to election and campaign laws to clean up Michigan elections. They also called on Representative Tom McMillan, (R-Rochester Hills), chair of the House Oversight, Reform, and Ethics Committee, to look into the attempt to quash fair elections such as the one made by Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger and Republican State Representatives Roy Schmidt and Lisa Posthumus Lyons in Grand Rapids.
“More reports of the attack on our democratic process are coming to light,” said State Representative Barb Byrum (D-Onondaga). “The people responsible for Michigan’s ex-Congressman Thaddeus McCotter’s election rigging are being brought to justice, so I don’t see why Representative McMillin thinks a state representative and all who conspired with him shouldn’t be duly punished.”
A report issued by Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth last month said that Bolger and Schmidt colluded in an attempt to rig an election in Schmidt’s favor, but said the pair couldn’t be prosecuted because there’s nothing in Michigan election law to prohibit what the two did. As recent as Tuesday, Gongwer News reported that Forsyth decided no charges would be filed in the case before the Michigan State Police investigation had concluded.
“Schmidt, Bolger and McCotter- all Republican elected officials - really are bringing shame to their party but are also sullying the reputation of all the representatives that serve honestly,” added Representative Dian Slavens (D-Canton).
House Democrats called for better ethics and campaign finance laws even before the scandal involving Speaker Bolger and Representative Schmidt unfolded. In January, House Democrats introduced a package of 16 bills and one proposed constitutional amendment that would make state government more transparent, accountable and fair. Yet Bolger and House Republicans have stonewalled any genuine discussion and debate of the proposals. Once it became clear Bolger and Schmidt tried to fix the election in Michigan’s 76th House District, additional legislation was proposed to prevent future attempts at rigging an election, including increasing election fraud penalties. Bolger now says he is against any further investigation into what he did.
“If my colleagues in the Republican party do not step up and say ‘enough is enough,’ then the integrity of that party will always be questioned,” said Representative Charles Smiley (D-Burton). “Ultimately, we are all here to serve the citizens of Michigan and they deserve fair and open elections.”
“All elected officials, from the president to the local drain commissioner should earn their seat fairly and honestly,” added Representative Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield).
Democratic Floor Leader Kate Segal (D-Battle Creek) introduced House Resolution 309 which would call on the Kent County Prosecutor and the Attorney General to immediately re-open the investigation into the election rigging scandal in the 76th House District. This comes in light of recent news reports that uncovered through a Freedom of Information Act request that the Michigan State Police had secured additional search warrants to look at relevant cell phone records and an email account but the Kent County Prosecutor ended the investigation without bringing any charges and, therefore, the additional search warrants were canceled.