Michigan Democratic candidate exits race as revenge porn claims, troubling past surface

A Democratic candidate for a state House seat in Jackson is ending his campaign after social media posts pointing out past allegations of threatening to carry out a school shooting and using compromising personal pictures to pressure a person prompted prominent party leaders to pull their endorsements and financial support.

In a statement, Maurice Imhoff did not address any specific allegation and did not agree to an interview. But he said he would end his campaign after "a lot of soul searching."

"I've been suspended, arrested and convicted of things of which I am not proud," Imhoff said in a statement released to the Free Press.

"Who I was is not who I am today, but I find myself confronting it on this campaign. ... I have decided to end my campaign."

Lansing, Michigan, at the Michigan State Capitol during a wet evening.
Lansing, Michigan, at the Michigan State Capitol during a wet evening.

Over the weekend, a person posted to Facebook allegations about Imhoff, ranging from him threatening to carry out a school shooting to using images she sent to him as leverage against her. The Free Press was not able to immediately verify these allegations, and Imhoff did not address the Facebook post in his statement. The Free Press is not naming the person because the alleged misconduct occurred when she was a minor. She did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Police and court records detailing any interactions with Imhoff in the Jackson area were not immediately available. The Jackson Police Department and the Jackson County Sheriff's Office did not immediately respond to Freedom of Information Act requests filed Tuesday.

Other media outlets, including the Detroit News, cite reports indicating Imhoff was charged with a "false report or threat of terrorism." The report did not indicate the resolution of that case, according to the News.

After reports from the News and Gongwer on the allegations, prominent Democrats pulled their support of Imhoff. That includes Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and the House Democratic Caucus.

"The allegations are serious and concerning. Governor Whitmer does not support Maurice Imhoff's campaign," said Whitmer campaign spokeswoman Maeve Coyle.

Republicans blasted Whitmer and other Democrats for supporting Imhoff.

“Maurice Imhoff is a terrible candidate for public office, and he never should have been a centerpiece of the Democrat campaign,” said House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell, in a statement Tuesday.

Imhoff, 20, was the only Democrat to run in the primary election to represent the 46th District. Despite him ending his campaign, his name will still appear on the ballot in the general election and there's no mechanism for Democrats to swap in someone else on the ballot, said Angela Benander, a spokesperson for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

After redistricting, historical voting trends in the area indicated a Democrat would have a very slight advantage in the seat, according to an analysis from the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

While Imhoff was one of many candidates supported by high-ranking Democrats in Michigan, winning the Jackson seat would help Democrats as they seek to gain majority control in the state House. With Imhoff dropping out, Republican candidate Kathy Schmaltz will almost assuredly win the race.

In his statement, Imhoff said he planned to donate his campaign funds to a Jackson nonprofit that he credited with helping him turn his life around.

Contact Dave Boucher: dboucher@freepress.com or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Democrat Maurice Imhoff exits race for Michigan House: What we know