LANSING – House Democratic Leader Richard E. Hammel (D-Mount Morris Township) and Democratic Floor Leader Kate Segal(D-Battle Creek) today called for an investigation by the House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee into the election-rigging scam perpetrated by House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) and State Representative Roy Schmidt (R-Grand Rapids).
“We agree with Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth that what Bolger and Schmidt did to the people of Grand Rapids and the integrity of the House was a travesty,” Hammel said. “What they did was unethical. There must be a full investigation into the collusion between Bolger and Schmidt to determine which House rules were broken, to uncover violations of ethics and misconduct and to determine whether taxpayer money was misused in this scheme. We must act to prevent further acts of corruption and abuses of power like this in the future.”
On May 15, 2012, minutes before the deadline to file for the upcoming elections, Schmidt withdrew his paperwork to run as a Democrat and refiled as a Republican. Minutes before, a family friend of Schmidt filed as a Democratic opponent to Schmidt, even though he had no intention of actually running a competitive race. A report released by Forsyth yesterday revealed what many had already suspected : that Bolger and Schmidt worked together to rig the election in Schmidt’s favor, and that Schmidt had offered a total of $2,000 — from Schmidt’s own campaign fund — to entice the fake Democratic candidate to ensure Schmidt would have an easy reelection.
Forsyth used scathing language to characterize the scam perpetrated by Bolger and Schmidt. He said the two worked together to “undermine the election and to perpetuate a ‘fraud’ on the electorate.” However, Forsyth concluded that no state law prohibited what they did — a loophole he urged the Legislature to address.
“The prosecutor’s report confirms what we have said all along,” Segal said. “Bolger and Schmidt clearly worked together to attempt to cheat the people of Grand Rapids out of a fair election. What they did constituted an all-out assault on the sanctity of democracy, and we can’t allow them to just get away with their schemes.”
House Democrats have introduced a number of proposals to improve governmental ethics, including “Reform Government Now,” a package of 16 bills and one joint resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to strengthen ethics in Michigan government. House Republicans have stonewalled the effort and refused to either take up consideration of the bills in committee or to debate them on the House Floor, even though Michigan received a failing grade on a corruption risk report card issued by State Integrity Investigation, a joint project between the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International.