Schmidt scandal: Democrats call for resignations | News
LANSING, Mich. (Detroit Free Press/WZZM) -- The top Democratic leader in the state House called Wednesday for a legislative investigation of the political skulduggery surrounding the party switch of Rep. Roy Schmidt, R-Grand Rapids, and a phony candidate Schmidt allegedly recruited to run as a Democrat against him.
Other Democrats are calling for Schmidt to resign and Bolger to step down from the Speaker's post.
"I dont think there is any way he can serve his constituents the voters of Grand Rapids," said Rep. Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids, of Schmidt.
The leader of the Senate Democrats says Bolger should give up the Speakership.
"It is just an embarassment," says Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing. "No one is going to trust him anymore. His credibility is shot."
Veteran political observers say the extent of Schmidt and Bolger's actions in the scandal has surprised them.
"This is a self-inflicted wound by the speaker and Roy Schmidt who did something -- in my mind -- they didn't have to do," says Bill Ballenger, editor of "Inside Michigan Politics."
Speaker Bolger says he wanted someone to run against Schmidt after the Grand Rapids lawmaker decided to switch parties.
"I absolutely encouraged a Democrat to be recruited," says the Speaker, who is also embarrassed over his role in the scandal.
"I'm disappointed in myself," says Bolger. "Without any doubt, I am disappointed in myself."
Gov. Rick Snyder's aides say he has no comment on the scandal because he considers it a legislative matter. But Speaker Bolger says he has talked to the governor about what happened.
"It was a personal conversation, and I'll leave it at that," says Bolger.
Rep. Richard Hammel, D-Mt. Morris Township, said Wednesday morning that the House should do its own investigation to determine "what happened between (House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall) and Rep. Schmidt. We have an obligation to find out what happened."
Hammel was responding to a report Tuesday by Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth that was highly critical of deceptive tactics used by Schmidt when he switched parties at the deadline for running for office, and his recruitment of a friend of his nephew's to run a sham campaign against him as a Democrat. Bolger communicated with Schmidt about the plan in messages obtained by the state police and released by Forsyth, but said he was not aware of all of the circumstances.
Forsyth, a Republican, said he did not believe a crime was committed, but left little doubt he found the two lawmakers' actions shameful.
Hammel conceded he was not sure a legislative investigation would turn up any new information. But he said it was necessary for the House to consider whether any of its own ethics rules were broken and to consider whether legislation was needed to preclude similar shenanigans in the future.
State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, said he wasn't surprised by Hammel's request, but wasn't sure it would serve any purpose other than the political interests of House Democrats.
"We've already had a pretty thorough investigation," McMillin said. "I'm pretty disappointed about what happened. But we need to keep our focus on turning the state around.