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by Autumn Smith
Michigan Republican Speaker of the House Jase Bolger has captured headlines once again. As if censoring two female legislators for saying 'vagina' and 'vasectomy' isn't enough attention for Mr. Bolger, then maybe committing a little election fraud is.
In late July, Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth released his findings in the investigation of Speaker Bolger’s and Rep. Roy Schmidt’s election rigging scheme that took place back in May 2012. This was when Rep. Roy Schmidt decided to change parties from Democrat to Republican just minutes before the filing deadline. It was also revealed Schmidt had conspired with Speaker Bolger to find a 'straw man' to run as a fake democrat against Schmidt, thereby guaranteeing Schmidt’s win in the election and retention of his seat: only this time as a republican. The fake democrat, Matt Mojzak, a 22 year old retail clerk, was offered $450 to file as a democrat and told that he would not have to campaign or raise money. Mojzak, who did not reside in Schmidt's district, swore in his affidavit that he was living at a home in Schmidt's district. Phil Browne, a top staffer to Speaker Bolger, delivered the papers that needed to be filed to the Kent County clerk. Mojzak then withdrew his 'candidacy' when media got wind that he did not actually live in the district he was running in. This, in turn, raised red flags about what was going on in Michigan's 76th district, prompting an investigation.
Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth issued the following statement in his report (what report?): "The Michigan Secretary of State, however, is the agency primarily responsible for enforcement of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act. As such, I have forwarded the investigative reports and my findings to the Secretary of State (who?) to determine what, if any, violations occurred and what, if any, sanctions should be imposed. "In conclusion, I would strongly encourage the Michigan Legislature to address this type of situation. As a Republican elected official, I am embarrassed and offended by what transpired. At a minimum, the Legislature should put a time limit on when a candidate may "switch" parties prior to the filing deadline. Allowing a candidate to "recruit" a so-called opponent and to allow the last minute shenanigans that occurred in this case is a travesty and should not be permitted."
Prosecutor Forsyth concluded that no criminal law was violated and therefore he could not press charges. But the story doesn't end there. Just today it was revealed that Mr. Forsyth called off the investigation that the Michigan State Police were conducting. There had been a possibility of conspiracy to commit perjury charges against Speaker Bolger and Rep. Roy Schmidt for their recruitment efforts to place a fake democrat on the ballot. Explaining why he ordered the Michigan State Police to stop their investigation, Forsyth stated that it would take too long and be difficult to prosecute this type of case. MSP Detectives believed that further investigation could have led to perjury and conspiracy charges being brought forth. Instead the investigation has been forwarded over to the GOP Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson's office, for review to see if any campaign finance laws have been violated. Calls for Bolger's resignation were rejected after Bolger cited he "got caught up in political gamesmanship.”
Something certainly doesn't smell right. We have all GOP players involved and search warrants were pending when GOP Prosecutor Forsyth conveniently timed the release of his report. Not only that, but also when the Michigan State police investigation starts pointing to perjury conspiracy charges, the GOP prosecutor shuts down their investigation. The only form of recourse now is trusting that GOP SOS Ruth Johnson's office does their job and charges Bolger and Schmidt with violations of campaign finance law. And if you live in Michigan like me and have seen the direct circumventing of the law over the past eighteen-plus months, you already know this 'investigation' is going to be a sham.
In the meantime, every Prosecuting Attorney in the State of Michigan is up for election/re-election this year. Please keep this information in mind when going to the polls in November. Until then, I urge you to contact Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth's Office and demand that he do his job no matter how long or difficult it may be and bring charges against Speaker Bolger and Rep. Roy Schmidt. If he feels that doing his job is too difficult or pressing charges takes too long, then maybe he doesn't belong in that position.
I wish I had the luxury and could just not do my job when it becomes difficult or takes longer than usual.
William A. Forsyth, Kent County Prosecutor
82 Ionia Avenue NW, Suite 450
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2266
Phone: (616) 632-6710
:: photo courtesy of Michigan Municipal Leage, via Creative Commons license ::