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Macomb County Commissioners won't give clerk money for private attorney

Updated: 11/9/17

The Macomb County Board of Commissioners has once again said "no" to the county clerk's request for money for a private attorney.  Karen Spranger asked for $15,000 for a private attorney earlier this year, and she asked for $100,000 on Tuesday.

Spranger is involved in so many lawsuits it's hard to keep track. 

She's being sued by two former employees that she fired after they allegedly blew the whistle on her ethics violations. She's being sued by one of the unions that represents her employees. And she's being sued by the county.   

The county alleges she has no right to her job because she lied on her application to run for office. 

She herself is suing the county and the Board of Commissioners, so it's no surprise the board unanimously denied her request for help with her legal bills.

Spranger sued after she was told she has no right to fire union employees under contract. 

Meanwhile, according to a county commissioner, her employees have filed 22 grievances against her for harassment. In all 22 cases, the county sided with the employees. County employees have also picketed her office claiming she has created a hostile workplace. 

A number of employees are on medical leave because of the alleged harassment. Spranger has also refused to let unionized supervisors work in her building, which means they're working in a separate building from the union employees they are responsible for.

Spranger can't be fired, because she is an elected official. Under Michigan's recall law, she can't be recalled in the first or last years of her four-year term of office.

Spranger is also being investigated by the Macomb County Sheriff for perjury, related to claims she lied about where she was living when she filed an application to run for office.

She is suing Google for cooperating with the investigation, which sought the address she used when she set up her email account.

Before she was elected, Spranger was known for political protests such as coming to Warren City Council meetings wearing a silver track suit, sunglasses, and two hats, and speaking against smart meter installations during public comments.

This story originally stated that Spranger asked for $100,000 for a private attorney earlier this year, when she asked for $15,000.  Her recent request was for $100,000.

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.
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