By Brandon Hall
(Email Him At WestMIPolitics@Gmail.com)
Allegations that Attorney General Schuette committed misconduct in office by using state employees to help with luxury real estate deals while they were on the job are now being investigated by the Federal Beareau of Investigation after Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon referred the case to the FBI on Monday.
Attorney General Schuette Accused Of Official Misconduct, Grand Jury Investigation Requested For Using State Employees In Secret Luxury Real Estate Deals
According to MIRS:
"An East Lansing attorney's request to launch a grand jury investigation into Attorney General Bill SCHUETTE has been referred to the FBI.
Attorney Michael NICHOLS, who represented ousted House representative Cindy GAMRAT in 2016, confirmed today that Ingham County Prosecutor Carol A. SIEMON referred his request -- made in a June 28 letter to Siemon, Ingham County law enforcement agencies and Michigan State Police -- to the FBI and "that an agent would probably call me."
Nichols wouldn't speculate on why Siemon referred the matter to the FBI, but said, "I'm obviously pleased." Nichols first reported the update on WILS' Dave Akerly's Morning Show.
A spokesman for the prosecutor's office would only confirm Nichols' correspondence was referred to the "appropriate agency." (See "Gamrat's Former Attorney Asks For Investigation Against AG," 6/28/18.)
When reached for comment, Andrea BITELY, spokeswoman for Schuette's office, said, "If I had a dime for every defense attorney who attacked a prosecutor, I'd have a lot of dimes."
She previously told MIRS Nichols' request was "another baseless political attack" against Schuette's "strong ethical record." Stu SANDLER, who worked for the Attorney General's office during Mike COX's tenure and now runs a pro-Schuette Super PAC, said the Prosecutor's action was a "polite way" of playing politics. He said the Prosecutor was being thorough and getting it off her plate, but "there's nothing there" as far as a case against Schuette.
Citing articles in the Detroit Free Press, Crain's and Detroit News, Nichols said Schuette used his office for personal gain, including using staffers to notarize documents for land sales on his family-owned property on the island of St. John while he publicly denied existence of the transactions. He said the attorney general, however, admitted the allegations when it became public.
Nichols' letter also mentions a Court of Claims lawsuit that alleges Schuette used his office and its resources for "his self-serving political agenda," and that the A.G. admits "hiring political operatives despite" rules prohibiting hiring or firing employees based on partisan consideration.
At minimum, Nichols says, Schuette's admissions call for him to face misconduct in office charges just as Gamrat did.
Gamrat was charged with felonies at the conclusion of her expulsion hearing, and Nichols said the last thing he expected was criminal charges as a result. The charges related to her allegedly lying about whether she knew former House lawmaker Todd COURSER arranged for a "false-flag email" to be sent on May 20, 2015, falsely accusing him of drug use and sex with a male prostitute as a way to detract from news of their affair.
It also related to her allegedly allowing staffers to sign her name to two bills. However, a District Court judge dismissed the allegations when testimony didn't support the state's case. (See "What Did Gamrat Say After The Press Conference," 8/14/15; "In Wake Of Sex Scandal, Gamrat Apologizes, Isn't Resigning For Now," 8/14/15; "Gamrat Expelled After Courser Choose Resignation," 9/10/15; and "Courser To Stand Trial On Two Counts," 6/14/16.)"
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.