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 November 28, 2014 08:26 GMT

WTO-GLOBAL TRADE DEAL

GENEVA (AP) -- The World Trade Organization has pulled off a major deal that could boost global commerce by $1 trillion annually after years of negotiation.

Diplomats says the deal approved Thursday is the first multilateral trade agreement in the organization's 20-year history. It will go into effect after all 160 member countries ratify, expected sometime next year.

A U.S.-India deal this month over food stockpiling by India cleared the way for the agreement that U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said "preserved the letter and spirit of the package of decisions" reached at a WTO summit last December in Bali.

European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said the deal will "lift millions out of poverty."

OPEC MEETING

VIENNA (AP) -- OPEC oil ministers have decided to keep their present output target at 30 million barrels a day, despite an oversupply of crude and plunging prices.

The decision Thursday was expected. OPEC oil power Saudi Arabia had indicated before the meeting that it favors the status-quo.

The Saudis are the top producers within the 12-nation organization and effectively decide the cartel's policy.

Some less well-off members had favored a cut, to reduce supplies and push prices back up. But because of booming shale production in the U.S, that would not have made a sizable dent in supply.

JAPAN-ECONOMY

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's inflation rate fell to a six-month low, highlighting the difficulty Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces in his campaign to overcome deflation in the world's third-largest economy.

The core consumer price index, excluding fresh foods, rose 2.9 percent in October from a year earlier, according to data released Friday. Excluding the impact of a 3 percentage point sales tax hike in April, it rose 0.9 percent.

The tax hike broadsided the recovery as consumers and companies reined in spending after splashing out early in the year. Retail spending and household incomes also fell in October from a year earlier.

Other data for October were mixed. Industrial output edged up from the month before but fell 1 percent from a year earlier. The unemployment rate eased slightly.

HOLIDAY SHOPPING-THANKSGIVING

NEW YORK (AP) -- It's what's quickly becoming a new holiday tradition, gift shopping on Thanksgiving.

Just a few years ago when some stores started opening late on the holiday, the move was met with resistance from workers and shoppers who believed the day should be sacred.

Last year, more than dozen major retailers opened at some point on Thanksgiving evening. And this year, at least half of them opened earlier in the evening.

The Thanksgiving openings are one way retailers are trying to compete for Americans' holiday dollars. Retailers used to focus sales promotions on Black Friday. But increasingly, they've been pushing promotions earlier to grab deal-hungry shoppers' attention.

The National Retail Federation expects 25.6 million shoppers to take advantage of the Thanksgiving openings and it's starting to take a bite out of Black Friday business. Indeed, sales dropped 13.2 percent to $9.74 billion on Black Friday last year.

ARGENTINA-HSBC

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Argentina's tax agency charged HSBC bank Thursday with helping more than 4,000 Argentines evade taxes by placing their money in secret Swiss accounts.

The head of the country's AFIP tax agency, Ricardo Echegaray, said Argentine citizens evaded about $3 billion in taxes that were handled by intermediaries through a network of offshore accounts.

Echegaray alleged that some of those accounts in Geneva are owned by HSBC Argentina's president and other bank executives. He did not say if the bank's operations had been suspended in Argentina.

AFIP said it got its information from France, where HSBC was placed under formal investigation last week for possibly aiding tax evasion. The banking company has also been charged in Belgium with organized fiscal fraud.

HSBC said it respects Argentine laws and has committed no wrongdoing.

advertisement
Washington Times
advertisement