Inman recall bounced, Republican lawmaker’s bribery trial starts Tuesday

Rep. Larry Inman (right) with Rep. Jon Hoadley (left) during Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's budget presentation in March 2019 | Casey Hull

Indicted state Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) dodged a bullet the day after Thanksgiving when the state Bureau of Elections declared a recall campaign against him to be invalid.

The reason? Petitions omitted a single word: “Right.”

Inman is still facing a federal trial scheduled to start on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids. The legislator was indicted in May for charges of attempted bribery, extortion and lying to federal law officials in conjunction with a prevailing wage vote last year.

Inman constituents push for recall

He allegedly solicited campaign donations from the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (MRCC) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) in 2018 over the efforts to repeal the union wage law, which was ultimately successful.

Inman has maintained his innocence and has refused to step down.

The Board of State Canvassers approved in August petition language to recall Inman, noting charges against him and missed votes. On Nov. 22, the Recall Inman committee turned in about 14,000 signatures to the state, more than the roughly 12,000 required.

State panel OKs Inman recall petition, while Republican plans return to Legislature

In a letter dated Friday to petition sponsors Stacy Haag and Sondra Shaw Hardy and attorney Michael Naughton, Bureau of Elections Director Sally Williams said that language on petition sheets did not match what was approved by the Board of State Canvassers and signatures collected were therefore invalid.

The language submitted to the board was: “Since Larry Inman was indicted on three felony counts on May 14, 2019: Attempted Extortion Under Color of Official Right (Count 1) …” However, the petitions did not contain the word “Right.”

“Thus, while the omission of one word may seem inconsequential and the rejection of a recall petition on such grounds as excessively technical and harsh, the recall statute does not authorize the Bureau to excuse differences between the reasons for recall approved by the board and those printed on the recall petitions,” Williams wrote.

Judge orders Chatfield to testify in Inman trial

Meanwhile, Inman pleaded not guilty to charges and is set to stand trial. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

A federal judge ruled this week that state House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) will have to testify next week.

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Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.