GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Leaders from both political parties in Michigan are responding to the findings of the Kent County prosecutor, who determined Tuesday that the actions surrounding Rep. Roy Schmidt's party-switch were not illegal.
Schmidt, who represents the 76th District on the west side of Grand Rapids, switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican just before the filing deadline on May 15. At about the same time, 22-year-old Matthew Mojzak, who had never run for office, filed as a Democrat to run in that race. He soon withdrew his name.
Prosecutor William Forsyth said in an investigation report Tuesday that Schmidt agreed to pay Mojzak to run against him as a Democrat after he switched parties.
Forsyth determined that though the series of events was "clearly designed to undermine the election and to perpetrate a 'fraud' on the electorate," it was not illegal under Michigan law.
Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer, who requested the investigation, issued this statement:
"It's clear from today's report by Prosecuting Attorney Forsyth that Speaker Bolger has been lying to the public and to the press since this scandal began. Based on the text messages and phone calls that Forsyth uncovered, Bolger and his top staff, including Chief of Staff Suzanne Miller Allen, Deputy Chief of Staff Phil Browne, spokesperson Ari Adler and their legal counsel were all involved in this scheme right from the beginning, despite their contemptuous protests to the contrary.
"Forsyth's condemnation of Bolger and Schmidt -- saying he was 'embarrassed and offended' as a fellow Republican -- shows just how despicable their actions were. Given the fact that the people of Michigan can no longer rely on anything that comes out of his mouth, Speaker Bolger should step down immediately from leadership in the House.
"Even as Forsyth has wrapped up his investigation, we will continue to press this issue forward. There are possible campaign finance violations, civil liability and violations of House rules involved, and we expect those allegations to be investigated fully."
Speaker of the House Jase Bolger (R-Marshall), who was complicit in the effort to recruit a challenger, provided the following statement:
"I've said all along that all laws should be followed. As the Kent County Prosecutor determined, nothing illegal took place. Political fights can be ugly but we should all seek to focus on people, not politics. Nothing about Roy Schmidt switching parties was illegal. Roy Schmidt switched out of motivation to work for the people of Grand Rapids. But some of the actions surrounding the recruitment of another candidate were politically motivated. I encouraged a Democrat to be recruited to run, but today even I am still learning about all of the actions that took place surrounding that recruitment. Roy Schmidt told me he wanted to switch parties because he was frustrated dealing with partisan politics instead of finding solutions for Michigan's people. Political gamesmanship by anyone is a mistake and the focus should be on people instead of politics."
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