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Bolger, Schmidt evade charges for election scheme

Updated: Thursday, August 15, 2013
Bolger, Schmidt evade charges for election scheme story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A few days ago, a year-long grand jury of one cleared House Speaker Jase Bolger, of Marshall, and former State Representative Roy Schmidt of any criminal wrong doing in their keystone cops effort to rig an election last year with a fake Democratic opponent.

Tonight in Tom’s Corner, Tom Van Howe says that while they may not be crooks, there’s nothing suggesting either one can be trusted.

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How it can be that an effort to trick, to fool, to defraud voters, is anything but criminal is astonishing to me.

You can go to jail for cheating an innkeeper, but its business as usual when you're caught trying to cheat voters by abusing our electoral process.

In case your memory is foggy, here’s what happened.

Representative Roy Schmidt, a long-time Grand Rapids Democrat, decided he wanted instead to be a Republican.

So he huddled with House Speaker Jase Bolger and came up with a plan. Schmidt would wait until the last minute before the election, then take voters by surprise by filing as a Republican.

By pushing it to the brink it would leave his old party  without sufficient time to field a viable candidate.

But Schmidt and Bolger didn’t leave that to chance either; they recruited a kid—a friend of Schmidt’s son; someone who didn’t even live in the district; someone who has no political ambition—to file perjure himself as the Democratic challenger.

They offered him $1,000 to stay in the race.

But in the glare of media scrutiny, the young sacrificial lamb dropped like rock.

And because no money had actually changed hands—and only because of that—no law was violated.

“Intent,” apparently, only applies to other crimes.

In an incredible collapse, Schmidt went on to lose in the August primary to write-in Democrat Winnie Brinks.

Kent County’s Republican prosecutor William Forsythe said he could find no law that had been broken—but called the Bolger-Schmidt effort to rig an election a “travesty,” and likened it to rigging a boxing match.

There are laws against that, by the way.

So now a grand jury said the pair broke no law; that neither of them is a criminal.

Schmidt is already musing that he’d like to get back into politics. He says a suggestion by a former aide that there ought to be a law to prevent what he did from happening again is a “bunch of crap.”

Bolger has apologized;  but says he’d do it again. Without, the next time, the focus on the phony candidate.

He compared what he and Schmidt did to a football coach running a trick play.

Bolger is in his third term in the house and can’t run again. But the smart money says he’ll make a run for the state senate.

Just two guys who tried to rig an election. Two guys who violated the public trust. Two guys who abused the electoral process. They don’t get it.

Neither one deserves to hold elective office. One can only hope voters remember when the time comes to send them that very message.

In this corner...I’m Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on September 19, 2014 17:24 GMT

ALIBABA-IPO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Alibaba's stock is surging as the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse begins its first day trading as a public company.

The stock opened at $92.70 on the New York Stock Exchange this morning, up 36 percent from the initial $68 per share price set Thursday evening.

At that price the company would be worth $228.5 billion, more than companies such as Amazon, Ebay and even Facebook.

On Thursday, Alibaba and the investment bankers arranging the IPO settled on a price of $68 per share. The company and its early investors raised $21.8 billion in the offering, which valued Alibaba at $168 billion in one of the world's biggest ever initial public offerings.

But after a two-hour trading delay due to strong demand, it opened much higher than that price. If the stock closes at $92.70, the IPO will have raised close to $30 billion.

LEADING INDICATORS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A gauge designed to predict the economy's future health rose in August but at a much slower pace than in July.

The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators rose 0.2 percent in August, the seventh straight increase. But that was much slower than the revised 1.1 percent gain in July.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein says even with the slowdown in August, the index shows the economy is still gaining traction.

STATE UNEMPLOYMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unemployment rates rose in nearly half of U.S. states in August, even as employers in two-thirds of the states added jobs.

The Labor Department says unemployment increased in 24 states, fell in 15 and was unchanged in 11. Hiring picked up in 35 states, while it fell in 15.

Unemployment rates can rise even when hiring increases if more people start looking for work and don't immediately find jobs. The figures suggest hiring was broad-based across most regions of the country last month, even as nationwide job gains in August were the weakest this year.

Georgia reported the nation's highest unemployment rate, at 8.1 percent, followed by Mississippi at 7.9 percent. That's the first time Georgia has had the highest rate since the Great Recession ended.

BRITAIN-SCOTLAND-ECONOMY

LONDON (AP) -- Businesses and investors have reacted with relief to Scotland's decision to reject independence from the United Kingdom.

The No campaign won 55 percent of the votes cast in Thursday's referendum. The 10-point victory margin was wider than expected -- most opinion polls on the eve of the vote showed a narrower 4-point victory.

British stocks responded positively to the news Friday, with the FTSE 100 index up 0.3 percent. Royal Bank of Scotland shares were up, and the bank, which is majority-owned by the U.K. government, said it was "business as usual" for its customers.

Some had warned that if Scotland left, uncertainty over the future value of the British pound and government debt would have rattled the U.K economy.

In the currency markets, the pound was solid too, rising to a two-year high against the euro.

EXXON-RUSSIA DRILLING

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Exxon Mobil says it will stop drilling an exploratory well in Russia's Kara Sea in compliance with U.S. sanctions against Russia over Russia's involvement in the Ukraine.

Exxon planned to drill the well between August and October. The latest round of sanctions called for the removal of U.S. workers on projects in the Russian Arctic by Sept. 26.

Exxon says it has received a license from the U.S. Treasury Department to wind down operations, but it is unclear whether the license will allow Exxon to stop drilling on the schedule it had already laid out. Exxon could not be immediately reached for comment.

PABST BREWING-SALE

NEW YORK (AP) -- The maker of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is being sold to Russian company Oasis Beverages for an undisclosed sum.

In addition to its namesake beer, Pabst Brewing Co. makes Colt 45, Old Milwaukee and Schlitz. Pabst was acquired in 2010 by C. Dean Metropoulos & Co., which is known for investing in food brands.

Pabst Brewing, now based in Los Angeles, traces its roots back to 1844 in Milwaukee. Since purchasing it in 2010, Metropoulos has enlisted comedian Will Ferrell to market the company's beers. Pabst Blue Ribbon has also grown in popularity in part for its blue-collar appeal and cheap price.

Oasis is buying Pabst with TSG, an investment firm known for its work with consumer products companies. TSG Consumer Partners will take a minority stake in Pabst.

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