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 August 04, 2015 07:28 GMT

FOSSIL FUELS ON SALE

NEW YORK (AP) -- These days it seems whatever can be burned to power a car, heat a home, make electricity or ship people and goods around the globe is being sold at bargain basement prices.

Prices for coal, natural gas, oil and the fuels made from crude such as gasoline and diesel are all far less expensive than they have been in recent years.

Consumers are rejoicing. Fossil fuel companies are reeling. Countries that import energy, such as the U.S., China, Japan and those in the European Union, are getting an economic boost. Exporters, such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are facing lower income and budget shortfalls.

Commodities in general are slumping. The S&P global commodity index hit its lowest level since 2002 on July 27, lower even than during the 2008 global financial crisis.

The recent price declines are a result of complex factors that have led to a simple outcome: There is more than enough fossil fuels at the ready than customers need.

THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Commerce Department will be releasing factory orders for June. Today's release is set for 10 a.m. EST.

In Germany, Automaker BMW AG will report its second-quarter earnings.

On Wall Street, Aetna reports quarterly financial results before the market opens. Other pre-market quarterly reports are due to be released by CVS Health, Walt Disney, and Freddie Mac.

PIMCO-SEC

NEW YORK (AP) -- Investment giant Pimco says the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into its total-return fund.

Pimco says it was notified that the SEC is looking into the valuation of smaller-sized positions in non-agency mortgage-backed securities purchased by the fund between its inception on Feb. 29, 2012 and June 30, 2012. The SEC is also investigating the fund's performance disclosures for that period and its compliance policies and procedures.

Pacific Investment Management Co. says it received a Wells notice, which means SEC investigators are recommending that the agency take civil action against the company. The SEC is not formally accusing Pimco or the Pimco Total Return Active Exchange-Traded Fund of wrongdoing.

The SEC declined comment.

GENERAL MOTORS-IGNITION SWITCH DEATHS

DETROIT (AP) -- According to a fund set up to compensate victims General Motors' faulty ignition switches were responsible for at least 124 deaths and 274 injuries. The fund, administered by attorney Kenneth Feinberg, updated the totals Monday.

Victims' families are being offered compensation of at least $1 million each. The fund has finished processing the 4,342 claims it received by the Jan. 31 deadline. Of those, 91 percent -- or 3,938 -- were deemed ineligible. Feinberg is waiting for additional documentation for six claims.

Fund spokeswoman Camille Biros says 385 compensation offers have been made so far and 275 have been accepted. Five have been rejected.

GM recalled 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars last year but acknowledged it knew about the ignition switch problems for more than a decade.

MEDICAL DATA HACK

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) -- An Indiana medical software company has reported the private information of 3.9 million people nationwide was exposed when its networks were hacked earlier this year.

That's according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Medical Informatics Engineering reported the number of people affected by the hack to the federal agency on July 23.

The Fort Wayne company announced June 10 that the attack on its main network and its NoMoreClipboard network began May 7 and was detected May 26. The company said the exposed information includes names, addresses, birthdates, Social Security numbers and health records.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has urged all state residents to freeze their credit in the wake of the hack. He said his office is investigating the breach.

A list of affected providers can be found online at www.mieweb.com/notic

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