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Macomb County Clerk in federal court Tuesday on her conspiracy lawsuit

Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger
Macomb Daily

On Tuesday, Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger, representing herself, will appear at a hearing in her lawsuit against the county before federal district judge George Steeh.

She is expected to argue that he should recuse himself.

That's because twenty years ago, he was a Macomb County judge, and her lawsuit is alleging a conspiracy led by various Macomb County actors.

The alleged co-conspirators include Michael Deldin, the county's Deputy Chief Executive, John Schapka, Macomb County Corporation Counsel, Karen Bathanti, Macomb County Human Resources Director, Donna Cangemi, Local 411 President, 16th Circuit Court judge James Biernat, WDIV reporter Jason Colthorp, and Macomb Daily reporter Jameson Cook.

Spranger says the conspiracy against her was mounted because most of the persons named are Democrats and she is a Republican.  The county says her lawsuit is no more than a "rambling diatribe regarding the existence of an alleged and wholly unsubstantiated conspiracy to deprive her of a host of vaguely identified rights."

Spranger hopes a federal district judge - one more to her liking than Steeh - will agree that her constitutional rights have been violated, and reverse a circuit court ruling that eliminated her authority to hire and fire staff. 

That was after she tried to fire union workers protected by contracts, and after she refused to fill crucial positions necessary to keep county government operating.

So far, Spranger has lost all of the lower court battles in which she has been engaged since taking office on January 1, including one that ordered her to stop harassing and belittling her staff, but she told the Detroit Free Press she's finally going to get justice because, "this is in the plan of a higher power."

In a separate lawsuit in circuit court, Macomb County hopes to have her removed as county clerk for lying on her application to run for office.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.