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 July 01, 2015 07:29 GMT

GREECE-BAILOUT

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- A last-ditch effort to extend the bailout went nowhere and Greece has now failed to repay a loan due to the International Monetary Fund, deepening fears over whether it will be able to remain in the eurozone.

With its failure to repay the roughly 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) to the IMF, Greece became the first developed country to fall into arrears on payments to the fund. The last country to do so was Zimbabwe in 2001.

In a surprise move late yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis hinted that the government might be open to calling off the popular vote, saying it was a political decision.

With its economy teetering on the brink, Greece suffered its second sovereign downgrade in as many days when the Fitch ratings agency lowered it further into junk status, to just one notch above the level where it considers default inevitable.

Fitch said it now considered a default on privately-held debt "probable."

CHINA-MANUFACTURING

BEIJING (AP) -- China's manufacturing was weak in June and employers cut more jobs in a new sign the world's second-largest economy is struggling to emerge from a slump.

HSBC Corp. said its purchasing managers' index stood at 49.4, largely unchanged from May's 49.2 on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 show activity contracting. A separate index by an industry group, the Chinese Federation for Logistics & Purchasing, was unchanged from May's 50.2 on a similar 100-point scale.

Both surveys showed manufacturing employment declining. HSBC said jobs were cut at the fastest rate since February 2009 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

The Chinese government has cut interest rates four times since November and launched mini-stimulus efforts to shore up economic growth that slowed to 7 percent in the first quarter.

Both surveys found new orders and new export orders increased, suggesting global and domestic Chinese demand were reviving.

JAPAN-ECONOMY

TOKYO (AP) -- The mood among big Japanese corporations is unexpectedly upbeat despite recent data showing the recovery appears to be stalling.

The Bank of Japan's quarterly "tankan" business survey released today shows a reading of 15 in June, up from 12 in March, for large manufacturers. Among large non-manufacturers it was 23, versus 19 in March.

Large companies plan to boost their capital investment by 9.3 percent from a year earlier, revised up from minus 1.2 percent in March.

The survey reflects the number of those responding with a favorable assessment of business conditions minus those with a negative assessment. So it is considered a gauge of confidence about the economy.

Many experts the economy may have contracted or stayed flat in the April-June quarter due to weak demand and faltering exports.

TRUMP FALLOUT

NEW YORK (AP) -- There's continued fallout from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's remarks about Mexican immigrants.

A TV company backed by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim says it's scrapping a project in development with Trump, and Mexico says it won't be sending a contestant to the Miss Universe contest, which Trump partly owns.

The Miss USA pageant, set to take place July 12 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, also lost both its co-hosts Tuesday, with "Dancing with the Stars"' Cheryl Burke and MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts bowing out.

Last week, the hosts of the Univision simulcast, Roselyn Sanchez and Cristian de la Fuente, said they wouldn't take part in the Spanish-language telecast.

PUERTO RICO-ECONOMY

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Puerto Rico's financial future hangs in limbo as economists and officials warn that the U.S. territory could head down Greece's path if it is not allowed to declare bankruptcy as it struggles with $72 billion in public debt.

The island is closing a troubled fiscal year amid intense investor scrutiny, and the first of several multimillion-dollar debt payments is due. It remains unclear whether the government will meet a roughly $400 million obligation due today, obtain yet another extension from creditors, or default.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla has said that the overall debt is unpayable and that he will ask for a moratorium on payments, although it is still unknown whether bondholders will agree to that or opt to resolve the issue in court.

NIKE-CHAIRMAN

NEW YORK (AP) -- Nike Chairman Phil Knight plans to step down, and says he wants President and CEO Mark Parker to succeed him.

Knight, who is 77, says he plans to stay involved with the company after he steps down as chairman. Parker has been Nike's president and CEO since 2006.

Nike Inc. says it expects to name a new chairman in 2016, but no specific date was set for Knight's departure.

Phil Knight co-founded Nike and has been a director of the company since 1968. The company also named his son Travis to a spot on the board Tuesday.

Knight also says he will transfer most of his Nike stock to a limited liability company. The directors of that company will be Knight himself, Parker, and Nike directors Alan Graf and John Donahoe. He says the move will help maintain Nike's corporate governance.

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