Inman takes break from House sessions, but still bucks resignation calls

    Larry Inman (left) and Lee Chatfield (right)
    Updated, 2:41 p.m., with comments from the Michigan Democratic Party

    A day after being kicked out of the House Republican Caucus, state Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) continues to stand his ground.

    In a brief phone call with the Advance on Wednesday afternoon, Inman’s attorney, Chris Cooke, said that the embattled northern Michigan legislator still plans to remain in office. Inman has been excused from House sessions, at least for this week, as he develops a legal defense.

    Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg), May 16, 2019 | Nick Manes

    Inman, who was charged in a federal indictment last week with attempted extortion, bribery and lying to a federal official over allegations he tried to sell his vote on repealing prevailing wage, has consistently maintained his innocence.

    Several of his Republican colleagues have called on him to step down, including House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering), and the House GOP expelled him from its caucus on Tuesday. That expulsion means that if and when Inman returns to work, he would be forbidden from participating in closed-door policy meetings where key decisions are often made.

    Cooke acknowledged that his client has heard the calls for his resignation.

    “There’s a lot of pressure, as you can imagine,” Cooke said, but stressed that his client has no plans to resign at this time.

    But in an interview with the Advance last week after the indictment, Inman didn’t rule it out if the work involved in his legal defense prevents him from focusing on his legislative duties.

    Lee Chatfield addresses the Michigan House on the first day of session, Jan. 9, 2019 | Nick Manes

    “I’ll have to evaluate as we go forward,” Inman said. “These normal [legal] things take a lot of time. We’re just starting the process.”

    Since news broke of the indictment last week, Chatfield has repeatedly stated his desire for Inman to step down, but stopped short of calling for expulsion proceedings.

    On Wednesday, Chatfield spokesman Gideon D’Assandro stressed that remains the case.

    “[Chatfield] has asked him to resign and is hoping he does the right thing,” D’Assandro said in a message to the Advance.

    Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes | Andrew Roth

    Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes on Wednesday afternoon said Inman’s constituents deserve “real accountability … not more political games or window-dressing from Republican leadership that wants to preserve their power rather than restore integrity to our Legislature.

    “The fact remains that a legislator facing serious federal charges remains in office, collecting a generous taxpayer-funded salary while having lost all trust and credibility with both the public and his colleagues. The only solution to this scandal starts with Speaker Chatfield immediately beginning the expulsion process.”

    Nick Manes
    Nick Manes covers West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels. His byline also has appeared in Route Fifty and The Daily Beast. When not reporting around the state or furiously tweeting, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Krista, biking around his hometown of Grand Rapids and torturing himself rooting for the Detroit Lions.

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