LANSING – Democratic State Representative Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) today introduced House Resolution 316 calling on House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) to step aside from his leadership post pending the completion of the grand jury investigation. Bolger was elected Speaker of the House by a unanimous vote of the House (110-0) on Jan.12, 2011. Bolger is under investigation for his actions in the election rigging attempt in House District 76 when Rep. Roy Schmidt (R-Grand Rapids) switched parties and then, with Bolger’s aid, tried to plant a sham Democrat in the race.
“Speaker Bolger said in his first speech as speaker on Jan. 12, 2011, entitled “Great Responsibility, Responsible Leadership,” that representatives `will be committed to serving our constituents in the most professional manner while working in our districts.’ Clearly, the speaker has failed to live up to his own demands for us and, as a failed leader, he should step aside from the post of speaker of the house.”
Bolger and Schmidt’s actions surrounding Schmidt’s party switch are now the subject of a one-judge grand jury, empaneled in the Ingham County Circuit Court, which will be conducted by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. After an investigation that was cut short, Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth said he was embarrassed by Bolger and Schmidt’s actions and that they clearly tried to rig the election. Forsyth said, however, that he could not find any election laws that were broken. He did, however, forward information to Secretary of State Ruth Johnson for investigation into possible campaign finance violations. Johnson has yet to respond.
“The speaker himself called for respect to be shown in the chamber and in our districts, and yet he has failed to do that,” said Dillon. “His leadership of the House has been compromised. The investigation is a distraction that will prevent the Speaker from carrying out his duties. Michigan residents deserve a fully engaged speaker who is focused on the business of the House— not defending himself in a grand jury investigation. At the very least, Speaker Bolger needs to step aside from his post as Speaker of the House at this time because he cannot effectively lead without the full confidence and trust of this body.”
Additionally, today the Minority Vice Chair of the House Government Operations Committee, Rep. Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hills), asked to re-refer HR 303 to the House Oversight, Reforms and Ethics Committee. Representative Barnett argued that Government Ops is not the appropriate committee for the resolution since the Oversight committee is more appropriate for an internal investigation of ethics and other misconduct. She also pointed out that the majority has put forth more effort on a daily basis to enforce name badges be worn on the House floor during session than there is to investigate House members, who are the subject of a grand jury investigation because a judge has found probable cause they may have acted illegally and unethically.
Below are excerpts from Speaker Jase Bolger’s first speech to the House of Representatives after being elected Speaker on Jan. 12, 2011. His entire speech can be found in the No.1, State of Michigan, Journal of the House of Representatives, 96th Legislature, Regular Session of 2011, Wednesday, January 12, 2011, pp. 22-23. The full text of the speech is available at http://www.legislature.mi.gov/ , click on journals on the list on the right, choose House Journals and enter 01.
“I speak to each and every one of you who are so privileged to be in this chamber – work together to respect, earn and maintain the privilege bestowed upon us by the people of Michigan… .
While we perform these difficult tasks, I challenge this legislature to perform with RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP.
Beginning with simple changes like a stricter dress code, a timely start to meetings and session, and a predictable calendar, we will operate with professionalism.
And even when we are not here in Lansing, we will be committed to serving our constituents in the most professional manner while working in our districts.
We are going to take our responsibilities seriously and we are going to lead. We are going to put families and jobs first.
Our focus will be on the issues – reforming government, reforming regulation and reforming taxes – that will empower our citizens to turn our state around. Political efforts should be left to the campaign trail.
We can and must work together.
I will caution, however, that `bipartisan’ does not mean we will always agree. We each bring a unique perspective to every action, whether we are coming from across the aisle or across the state.
`Bipartisan’ does mean we will each treat ideas, perspectives and individuals with respect and proper consideration.
That is why no idea for recovery will be shunned in this chamber because of its origin. The committee process should be a place of robust deliberation.
This chamber should welcome debate, but its members should be constructive in doing so. I call on us to move forward, united, with one agenda – creating an environment that supports job creation and economic growth.
Michigan cannot rebound until our families rebound. And the families of Michigan are hurting. We are their servants and it is time to serve.
So let’s get to work with a vision that is bold, meaningful and lasting.
Let us have people remember the 96th Legislature not because of some individual legacy, but because of what we accomplished for our state and her people.”