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.


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 October 02, 2015 17:45 GMT


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The Labor Department says employers added just 142,000 jobs in September as manufacturers and oil drillers shed workers. Hiring in July and August was revised lower by 59,000.

The unemployment rate remained 5.1 percent, but only because more Americans stopped looking for work. The proportion of Americans working or searching for jobs fell to a new 38-year low.

Average hourly wages also slipped by a penny and have risen a tepid 2.2 percent in the past year.

U.S. consumers are spending at a healthy pace, boosting job gains in sectors like retail and hotels and restaurants. But lackluster growth overseas has sharply reduced exports of factory goods.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories fell in August by the largest amount in eight months, led by a drop in demand for commercial airplanes and weakness in a key category that tracks business investment spending.

The Commerce Department says factory orders declined 1.7 percent in August after a slight gain of 0.2 percent in July. It was the biggest setback since orders dropped 3.7 percent in December.

Demand in a key category that serves as a proxy for business investment slipped 0.8 percent in August, following solid gains of 1.9 percent in July and 1.5 percent in June.

Manufacturing has been under stress this year as a strong dollar has hurt export sales. The big fall in energy prices has also resulted in cutbacks in investment by energy companies.


NEW YORK (AP) -- Wal-Mart has laid off 450 workers at its headquarters as the world's largest retailer attempts to become more nimble to compete with the likes of

There are about 18,000 people who work at the headquarters Bentonville, Arkansas. The cuts were across all areas, from finance to global e-commerce. The company says that the employees were spoken to individually early on Friday.

The cuts follow months of rumors about job headquarters cuts and they were announced a month and a half after Wal-Mart cut its annual earnings outlook.


BERLIN (AP) -- Volkswagen subsidiary Audi says customers in Germany can now go to its website to see if their vehicles are among those installed with software that the company says was used to manipulate U.S. emissions testing.

Audi said Friday that customers in Germany could enter their car's serial number on the site to see if their car is affected. Audi says the function will be extended worldwide over national Audi sites in the coming week.

The company says customers can also go to Audi dealers to check on their vehicles, and that a fix will be presented to authorities in October.

Affected are some 2.1 million Audis with the 1.6 or 2 .0 liter TDI diesel motors with the designation EA 189 that are approved for the EU5 emissions standard.


BERLIN (AP) -- A German industry group says that German car exports were up 7 percent in September compared with a year earlier, while new registrations of cars at home climbed 5 percent.

The VDA group said Friday that German manufacturers exported 417,800 cars last month. It didn't give a breakdown of the destinations but pointed to rising demand elsewhere in western Europe.

In Germany itself, registrations of both German-made and foreign-branded cars climbed 5 percent to a total 272,500. VDA said that new registrations of diesel cars accounted for about 47 percent of the total and were up 8 percent.

The group didn't break down the number of cars sold at home and exported by individual manufacturers. News of the Volkswagen diesel emissions-rigging scandal in the U.S. emerged Sept. 18.


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The Press TV English-language channel quotes the head of Iran's filling stations union, Bijan Haj Mohammadreza, as saying 100 new licenses have been issued to each company.

Until now, the only retail service stations belonged to the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company.

The agreement comes after Iran and world powers reached a deal in July that curbs the Persian country's disputed nuclear program in return for the lifting of international economic sanctions.


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Deepwater Wind is building a five-turbine wind farm off Block Island, Rhode Island.

Inspection reports cite near misses with dropped objects, personnel working under suspended loads, the use of older cranes poorly suited to the environment and the repeated failure of rigging equipment.

The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council says the safety problems have been addressed.

It's working with Deepwater Wind to ensure the problem with the welding process is only a paperwork issue. The welds passed inspections.

Deepwater says it's confident in the project's progress.

Construction began in July. The wind farm is expected to generate power by the end of 2016.


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Some fishermen say Maine regulators' plan to place new restrictions on the scalloping industry is the right way to ensure the fishery keeps rebuilding.

Maine's meaty scallops are prized in restaurants and fish markets. Fishermen caught more than 4.9 million pounds of the scallops last year, up from less than 700,000 pounds five years earlier. Catches sometimes topped 10 million pounds in the 1990s.

Fishery managers say the scallops need additional protections along the state's southern coast. They want to close some spots to fishing and reduce the number of fishing days from 70 to 60 in the area.

Portland-based scallop fisherman Alex Todd supports the restrictions. He says fishing pressure on scallops is up because prices have been high.

Washington Times