Report: Secchia cited donations in urging erosion response

Rising Waters
A photo of Peter Secchia standing next to a statue of him in Millennium Park. (July 23, 2019)

A photo of Peter Secchia standing next to a statue of him in Millennium Park. (July 23, 2019)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Peter Secchia, the former U.S. ambassador from West Michigan, sent Republican state legislators a letter last year urging them to take action on erosion as he implied a possible decline in political donations, The Detroit News reports.

Lakeshore “property values will diminish greatly … hence, our donations will also diminish,” the November letter to Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield of Levering and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey or Clarklake reportedly read in part.

Secchia authenticated the letter to The Detroit News, saying he wasn’t issuing a threat or demanding a favor to save his lakeshore properties but instead was urging lawmakers to consider the problem.

A spokesperson for Shirkey told The Detroit News the senator threw the letter away. Chatfield’s office also acknowledged getting the letter but said he didn’t respond.

Republican lawmakers, including Chatfield, sent letters to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in December asking her to declare an emergency along the lakeshore because of the erosion, which has been aggressive amid high water levels.

Last month, the Senate OK’d a bill that would allow lakeshore homeowners to go ahead without a state permit when building temporary structures meant to combat erosion. That measure was sent on to a House committee.

Secchia, a Grand Rapids businessman, was the U.S. ambassador to Italy under President George H.W. Bush and was the vice chair of the Republican National Committee when Gerald R. Ford was president.

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