Democrats at the state Capitol are calling for an investigation into whether House Speaker Jase Bolger and state Representative Roy Schmidt, of Grand Rapids, broke ethics rules. The two lawmakers plotted Schmidt’s switch to the Republican Party, and worked to put a fake Democrat on the November ballot.
A prosecutor’s report says no laws were broken, but it was otherwise harsh in its judgment. It found Bolger and Schmidt tried to fool voters, and undermine the election.
House Democratic Leader Rick Hammell says the scandal deserves a legislative inquiry.
“It’s very clear what happened here,” he says. “It couldn’t be clearer that there were violations – maybe not legal violations, but significant ethical violations in how it was handled.”
“From my perspective, it’s just politics,” says Schmidt, who thinks no inquiry is necessary.
The scheme included recruiting and paying a fake Democrat who would appear on the ballot against Schmidt, but would not campaign. After the report was released, Schmidt admitted he lied about his involvement.
“It goes back, unfortunately, that I switched and, you know, nothing’s going to change that and they’re going to keep harping on that and, you know, the most I can say to that is I’m going to go out and make the case to my voters and do the best I can,” he says.
Some Democrats have also called on Schmidt and Bolger to resign for disgracing the Legislature. Neither has plans to do so.