Rep. Dian Slavens (D-Canton) on Thursday called for the resignation of House Speaker Jase Bolger in light of accusations of election-rigging.
Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth last week issued a report indicating Bolger and Rep. Roy Schmidt (R-Grand Rapids) worked to rig an election in Schmidt’s favor by helping Schmidt, who had served in the House as a Democrat, switch to the Republican Party just before the May 15 filing deadline.
The party switch left a vacancy for a Democratic candidate on the November ballot. Bolger admitted his role in the act, and also admitted to recruiting Schmidt’s nephew, Matt Mojzak, to run on the Democratic side.
Slavens said that while Bolger and Schmidt did not break any laws, their alleged actions undermined democracy.
“They didn’t break any law, but they broke something equally as vital to democracy; they broke the public’s trust ,” Slavens said Thursday during a press conference in Canton.
With her remarks Thursday, Slavens joined other Democrats who have demanded Bolger’s ouster.
Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer last week demanded Bolger resign, telling MLive.com “Given the fact that the people of Michigan can no longer rely on anything that comes out of his mouth, Speaker Bolger should step down immediately from leadership in the House.”
Bolger’s spokesman Ari Adler said the House Speaker has no intention of stepping down.
“The speaker has said he has no intention of resigning,” Adler said in an email. “The Kent County prosecutor determined that no laws were broken nor rules violated by the speaker or any member of his staff. “
Adler also criticized the House Democrats who have spoken out against Bolger.
“If the House Democrats are serious about accomplishing (in this) election, they need to find a way to work with Republicans instead of continually beating a rhetorical drum that accomplishes nothing,” he said in an email.
Slavens pitches election reform proposals
Slavens pitched a series of election reform proposals Thursday that she said could help enforce existing election fraud laws and preventing last-minute switches to one’s party affiliation.
Adler said that House Republicans have began proposing their own election reform proposals and said he was “glad” Democrats were joining the GOP’s efforts.
“Serious proposals from any source will be reviewed and considered because the speaker has said we should look at increasing the standards for election law,” Adler said in an email. “Proposals simply designed to score political points, however, are not going to be considered because we need solutions, not rhetoric.”
Among the proposals touted by Slavens:
- Increasing fines for election fraud from $1,000 to $10,000 under House Bill 5722 proposed by Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids), which would apply for instances of making a false affidavit or swearing falsely under oath for the purpose of securing voter registration, voting at an election or qualifying as a candidate.
- Giving opportunities for fair competition after last-minute party switches, which would allow a party to find a candidate of its choosing within 14 days if an incumbent candidate switches parties within seven days of a filing deadline.
- Requiring candidates to live in a district for 60 days before running for office.
- Returning campaign contributions after a party switch, which would amend Michigan Campaign Finance Law to mandate the return of all campaign contributions dating to one year before party switch, as well as interest, to the contributor.
- Requiring transparency in fundraising after a party switch, which would prevent candidates who signed an affidavit indicating a party switch from raising funds without first publicly disclosing the action of switching parties.
- Mandating candidates file their own affidavits, prohibiting representatives from filling out affidavits for a candidate.
- Requiring earlier filing deadlines for incumbents, moving the deadline to one week before challengers’ deadline.
Slavens said many of these bills already are moving through the House but won’t take effect during this election cycle. She indicated these measures would affect future elections.