NOTE: This story has been updated HERE.
How do you know when you have a Republican on the run? When they are so frightened of being recalled that they use every legal harassment technique in the book. And, right now, Representative Jase Bolger, the Speaker of the House from Michigan’s 63rd District, is running very scared. So scared, in fact, that he’s not above siccing his lawyer on a young disabled woman exercising her right to petition her government.
Autumn Smith filed recall paperwork against Jase Bolger in May of this year. She quickly amended the language and resubmitted it and there was a clarity hearing on May 25th. You can view the video of that hearing HERE. Around the 5:30 mark, Autumn makes charges of conflict of interest on the commission. Later in the video, around 25:35, the Calhoun County Treasurer loses her shit and proceeds to explain why it’s perfectly okay for her to be a political contributor to Speaker Bolger and Representative Nofs and still sit on the clarity hearing commission. The commission holds Autumn to a strict 5 minute speaking limit but allows Bolger’s attorney to speak for nearly 15 minutes.
After they denied the petition language she first submitted, Autumn submitted six additional versions. The hearing for those is a clown show of epic proportions. The commission seems confused by having to consider more than one version and doesn’t understand that, if more than one were approved, Autumn would simply choose one and discard the others. You can see the videos for this hearing HERE and HERE.
Two of Autumn’s petition language submissions were eventually accepted. Access to the videos was obtained only after Autumn threatened to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. She would have made her own video but the County moved the venue to the courthouse where video and audio taping are not allowed. They then had the audacity to demand $500 payment for a transcript. Autumn eventually prevailed against the legal headwind
The final clarity hearing for the petition language that Autumn selected was supposed to be today. However, yesterday, Autumn received a phone call from a member of the media asking for a response to the Temporary Restraining Order that had been filed to prevent the hearing from going forward. This was news to Autumn who had actually not yet received notice of the cancellation. Why did this happen? Because the official manner in which this urgent and official government news was conveyed to her was by email. While she did eventually receive the email, it was only AFTER the media. Thankfully for her, it didn’t end up in her spam box!
Here’s the email. I have removed the email addresses of all recipients except those of the media. You will see that the Elections Specialist Teri Loew seemed to be very interested that the media be notified of what was transpiring.
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2011 16:39:53 -0400
To: [personal and professional emails deleted] – firstname.lastname@example.org; GetPublished@BattleCreekEnquirer.com; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Ms_press@frontiernet.net; firstname.lastname@example.org; BMiller@gannett.com; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Newscenter@wwmt.com
Subject: 6.23.2011 Clarity Hearing URGENT
This serves as notification that the June 23, 2011 Clarity Hearing regarding the Bolger Recall language has been canceled due to a TRO (temporary restraining order) filed in the 37th Circuit Court this afternoon.
Order granting temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction:
It is hereby ordered that the (Calhoun County) Election Commission is enjoined and restrained from accepting or approving petitions submitted by the Petitioner seeking to recall the Representative (James P. Bolger) until further notice of this Court.
It is further ordered that this Order shall become effective upon entry with the Court and shall remain in full force and effect until the hearing to Show Cause as to Why an Injunction Should Not Issue scheduled for July 1, 2011, 11:00 am, Courtroom 474, unless otherwise ordered by the Court.
Allen Garbrecht for Conrad Sindt, Circuit Court Judge
For questions call Mr. Gary Gordon (Jase Bolger’s attorney) at 517.374.9133 or Calhoun County Legal Council Mr. Richard Lindsey at 269.781.0917.
Calhoun County Election Specialist
Phone: 269-781-0988; Fax: 269-781-0703;
Make Freedom Count, VOTE !
Keep in mind that this happened yesterday afternoon — the day before the hearing. Autumn did not receive a phone call. She did not receive a certified letter. She was not informed via courier. The County Clerk’s office notified her that her hearing the next day was cancelled due to legal action by Speaker Bolger BY EMAIL!!!
Speaker of the House Jase Bolger is running very scared. The last thing he wants is to face a recall — a vote by his constituents to remove him from office. He knows that Republican overreach in Michigan has people from across the political spectrum outraged. It’s not just Democrats that are angry now. Republicans, and even tea partiers, are waking up to just how egregious their actions are. Bolger knows full well that his days are numbered if he is forced to face a recall.
So, his response is to legally harass Autumn Smith. Autumn is disabled and without an attorney. She has had no legal help during this entire process yet has eloquently defended her position every step of the way. She’s smart, she’s savvy, and she’s determined. The best that Bolger can conjure up is to pay high-dollar lawyers to throw every road block they can in front of Autumn, hoping to wear her down, tire her out, and deplete her bank account.
The next hearing is July 1st. If you are an attorney willing to provide pro bono legal advice to Autumn to help her fight this offensive attempt to stop her from exercising her constitutionally-protected right to file for a recall of her elected representative, please contact me immediately. This is not just an affront to Autumn. It’s an affront to every Michigander. If her rights are trampled in this instance by a fearful, frightened, but very rich man who can afford the best lawyers money can buy, then all of our rights have been abridged. We must stop this now.
UPDATE: Here’s reporting from the Battle Creek Inquirer:
A Calhoun County judge has temporarily halted part of an effort to recall Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger.
Circuit Court Judge Allen Garbrecht granted a preliminary injunction Wednesday, stopping a meeting of the Calhoun County Election Commission from considering new recall language against Bolger, R-Marshall, scheduled for today.
Bolger’s attorney, Gary Gordon, also filed an appeal on the commission’s decision last week approving two recall statements submitted by Emmett Township resident Autumn Smith, Bolger spokesman Ari Adler said Wednesday.
Gary Gordon, an attorney for Bolger, has argued that because Smith’s recall language is unclear, Bolger cannot adequately respond, and that having multiple petitions circulating adds to the confusion.
Adler said that having yet another petition approved would compound the confusion for voters.
Smith has said she planned to gather signatures on just one of the approved petitions…
After the election commission rejected Smith’s initial recall language, she submitted six new statements. Two of those were approved last week. Smith then immediately filed a new statement in order to fix issues that could be raised in an appeal.