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Whitmer will consider MSU trustee removal request

Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer will consider a request to remove two Michigan State University trustees over allegations of bullying and other misconduct once she returns from an overseas trade trip, her spokesperson said Monday.

The MSU Board of Trustees voted 6-2 at a Sunday night meeting to refer the request to Whitmer to use the rarely invoked power. The two “no” votes were from trustees Dennis Denno and Rema Vassar, the targets of the request.

Both trustees say they are being treated unfairly. Vassar called the board’s actions “punitive and over the top.”

Whitmer is out of the country this week on a trade trip to Taiwan and South Korea.

Whitmer Press Secretary Stacey LaRouche also said the request has not formally reached the governor’s desk.

"As we have done in similar instances, we will take the time to carefully review this request upon official receipt of the formal communication from the board," said LaRouche.

This broad power comes from Article 5, Section 10, of the Michigan Constitution, which states:

“The governor shall have power and it shall be his duty to inquire into the condition and administration of any public office and the acts of any public officer, elective or appointive. He may remove or suspend from office for gross neglect of duty or for corrupt conduct in office, or for any other misfeasance or malfeasance therein, any elective or appointive state officer, except legislative or judicial, and shall report the reasons for such removal or suspension to the legislature.”

That power was memorably in the news in 2008, when the Detroit City Council asked then-Governor Jennifer Granholm to remove Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick over allegations of corruption. She held a one-day hearing, but the process was cut short after Kilpatrick resigned as part of a plea deal.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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