Another serious corruption scandal has erupted, engulfing yet another wing of the Republican Party. Michigan state Rep. Larry Inman has been hit with federal criminal charges of attempted extortion, bribery, and lying to an FBI agent over attempting to get a local union to promise campaign contributions of some $30,000 in exchange for a vote in their favor in support of a wage law. The union — the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights — did not contribute any money following Inman’s contact, and he ended up voting against their interests and in support of repealing a decades-old law enshrining wage protections on state construction projects. The repeal passed by a meager three votes.
At present, Inman remains in his position, although calls for his resignation have come from both sides of the aisle. State House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R) says he asked Inman to resign, but according to the embattled legislator’s attorney Christopher Cooke, Inman isn’t even considering resignation, despite Chatfield claiming to have understood otherwise.
The state Democratic Party’s leader Lavora Barnes shared her own harsh takedown:
‘Not only is Inman accused of violating the trust of his constituents, the oath of his office, and the law, but his actions, if true, show a deeply troubling pattern of Republican disdain for the working people of our state. The citizens of Michigan deserve representatives that put the people of our state first and do not abuse the trust of the public or the power of their position.’
So far, Inman is the only state legislator to have been caught in the scandal, but he referenced a full dozen state House members who he alleged could be swayed to vote in the union’s favor in exchange for campaign contributions. He wanted them all to get some $30,000. It’s unclear who those dozen actually are and whether Inman was even telling the truth about their supposed willingness to exchange votes for money. Former state Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer is among those to have called for an investigation into the broader issue to uncover the truth of the situation. Chatfield hasn’t let on that he believes there’s a place for a probe, suggesting that “every single person in this chamber is aware of” the grossly inappropriate nature of Inman’s actions.
If he has any integrity House Speaker @LeeChatfield will investigate who the other #DirtyDozen @migop representatives that were part of this bribery scheme are; will Chatfield investigate or lead a coverup? https://t.co/dVcN0hNzFa
— Mark Brewer (@MarkBrewerDems) May 15, 2019
If he refuses to step down, the chamber could take steps to expel him, which has only been undertaken four times in the state’s history. Still, considering that the GOP House Speaker is on board with at least the idea of getting him out, the move could proceed.
The scandal puts Inman right at home with the current state of the national GOP, which has seen the president himself have half a dozen and counting associates slapped with criminal charges.
Michigan, meanwhile, is one of the states that went somewhat blue in the midterm elections, electing former state legislator — and Democrat — Gretchen Whitmer as their new governor, while both chambers of the state legislature remain Republican-majority. The state is dealing with issues other than Inman’s behavior at present, with state Republicans having produced anti-abortion legislation in line with other Republican-majority states that Whitmer has promised to veto.
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