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.
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.
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.
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.