Mich. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson Issues Letters to Schmidt, Bolger

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The controversy surrounding allegations of election fraud by Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) and Rep. Roy Schmidt (R-Grand Rapids) continued on Friday, as Secretary of State Ruth Johnson sent letters to both men informing them that they have three weeks to respond to a complaint filed against them last week. The complaint was filed by state Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer, and alleges that both men, along with several others, conspired to allow Schmidt to switch political affiliations. That way, he could run for re-election as a Republican, while at the same time allegedly paying a man to run as his Democratic opposition but not to actually campaign for the seat, as reported by the Associated Press and other outlets.

Here is some of the key information regarding the allegations and Johnson's actions on Friday.

* Bolger has denied allegations that he broke the law, but apologized for his part in the maneuver. In a statement published by the Detroit Free Press, he said that "we should have held ourselves to a higher standard than just following the rules," and admitted that "the actions surrounding the recruitment of another candidate were politically motivated."

* Schmidt, too, has denied any wrongdoing in the matter, telling Michigan Radio that no formal inquiry into the matter was necessary and that "From my perspective, it's just politics."

* Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth had concluded an investigation into the matter last week. In his press release announcing his findings, he said that it did not appear that Schmidt and Bolger had violated any laws, as Michigan does not currently legislate against posting a false candidate in a political race.

* Forsyth, a Republican, did say in his statement that the "scheme" by Schmidt and Bolger "was clearly designed to undermine the election and to perpetrate a 'fraud' upon the electorate."

* Forsyth's statement contained copies of text messages between Schmidt and Bolger, amidst other evidence, as well as phone records.

* Brewer and other prominent Democrats called upon both men, particularly Bolger, to resign their positions in the wake of Forsyth's report. Both Schmidt and Bolger have said that they do not intend to step down, as reported by Michigan Radio.

* Johnson, for her part, on Tuesday said that she was "disappointed" in both Bolger and Schmidt's actions, and that "Voters deserve better than this," as quoted by MLive.

* According to an MLive report on Friday, once Bolger and Schmidt respond to Johnson's request, her office will determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a more formal investigation into the matter. If they choose not to respond to her request, her office will decide the matter based solely upon the complaint filed by Brewer last week.

Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in politics and public issues.

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