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Top state Democrats want new special investigation into Schmidt scandal

Michigan GOP
file photo

Senate Minority leader Gretchen Whitmerand Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer want a special investigation into the case of Democrat-turned-Republican State Representative Roy Schmidt.

The Kent County Prosecutor says Schmidt and House Speaker Jase Bolgertried to “perpetrate a fraud” on voters. But he says they didn’t commit any crimes. You can read his full report that was released last month here.

But Whitmer isn’t so sure. She believes there’s evidence to prove that Schmidt and others conspired to commit perjury and obstructed justice.

“My biggest fear is that people just brush it off as, you know, one of those odious things that happens in the capitol and it’s just not the case. It is very serious,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer and Brewer filed paperwork in Ingham County Circuit Court asking for a new expedited judicial investigation. You can read a copy of thefull complaint here.

“I would expect them to do this. It’s kind of typical standard operating procedure to do this sort of thing but there’s no substance behind it,” John Truscott said. He handles media requests for Schmidt in the scandal.

“The people who know who have investigated this very thoroughly have said there’s nothing there and we accept their word for that,” Truscott said.

The Kent County Prosecutor felt the decoy, Democratic candidate Matt Mojak (who Schmidt’s son recruited to run against Schmidt) committed perjury when he lied about where he lived. But the prosecutor felt the decoy was the least culpable in the scandal and decided not to press charges.

Whitmer wants a special one-person grand jury to investigate whether Schmidt and/or others should be charged with conspiracy to commit perjury and subornation of perjury (recruiting someone to commit perjury). The prosecutor’s investigation shows Schmidt helped the decoy candidate file paperwork with the wrong home address. Mojak was initially offered $450 to file.

Calls to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office to comment on this development have not yet been returned.

The complaint also alleges officials at the Secretary of State’s office obstructed justice when the office didn’t immediately turn over video recordings from the branch where Schmidt and Mojak filed that paperwork.

A SOS spokesman said the 64 hours of video Michigan State Police requested was such a large file the office had a difficult time getting it in a format to give to MSP. The video was compiled, he said, but not until after MSP halted the investigation at the Kent County Prosecutor’s request.

The SOS is still investigating whether any campaign finance laws were broken during the scandal. There is no clear timeline for that investigation to conclude.

Whitmer wants a special one-person grand jury to investigate the charges.

State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D) East Lansing
Credit http://whitmer.senatedems.com/
State Senator Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing)

“This is not fun and it’s not easy and it certainly is not going to earn me any popularity points here at the capitol, but I think this is the right thing to do. This is a very serious matter and no one, no one, is above the law,” Whitmer said of her decision to file the complaint.

A similar process was used in to prosecute fake Tea Party candidates placed on the ballot in Oakland County in 2010.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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