PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — Portage City Council voted Monday to look into whether one of its members is eligible to continue serving the community after questions were raised about her residency.
Lisa Brayton is accused of providing inaccurate information while filing to run for mayor in the 2023 city election. It stems from an affidavit of identity she filed to run for the position. Her residence is listed on an East Shore Drive property where a News 8 crew saw a house is under construction.
“Doing so could be considered to be perjury, a criminal offense,” said Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting, who confirmed Michigan State Police, with help from the attorney general’s office, are investigating the matter. “The Portage Department of Public Safety was initially contacted to conduct an investigation. Because of the potential conflict of interest, they referred the case to the Michigan State Police.”
It raised concerns from citizens who filed a formal complaint. In addition to the MSP investigation, a civil lawsuit seeking to remove Brayton from office was also filed, according to Getting.
The issue was discussed at a special Portage City Council meeting Monday night.
“That is a different matter. That is for her election status on the ballot,” said city attorney Catherine Hoffman. “We as a city cannot expend funds pursuing that matter, because we don’t want to bump up against campaign finance violations.”
While her chair sat empty, Brayton’s fellow city council members deliberated on whether she is eligible to continue sitting in it. Members unanimously voted to have Brayton provide a sworn affidavit of places she lived and when since she was elected in November 2021. The deadline given was noon September 5.
“What we would be reviewing is evidence to determine the facts around that definition ‘residence’ as per the Michigan State Election Law and how it pertains to our city charter and our eligibility to serve as a city council member,” said council member Chris Burns.
But the council will also be looking for legal clarity and explanation from the city’s charter, which vaguely states that someone is eligible for city office if they “shall be and remain a registered elector of the City.”
“That is the only eligibility criteria you have on your city charter as being eligible to serve on the council,” Hoffman told council members.
The council also voted unanimously to ask Brayton if a notification she made to the city manager’s office this past Friday was a formal resignation. Reading an email from the city clerk’s office to members, Portage Mayor Pro Tem Jim Pearson said, “She will be unable to attend meetings likely through November due to personal reasons.”
News 8 reached out to Brayton for comment but have yet to hear back. A crew also stopped by her other known address, but nobody answered the door.