MI House Spkr Bolger challenges constitutionality of Calhoun Cty Election Comm to derail recall

MI House Spkr Bolger challenges constitutionality of Calhoun Cty Election Comm to derail recall effort
Details are emerging on Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger’s fight to avoid facing a recall. I have written about Autumn Smith’s efforts HERE, HERE and HERE, by way of background.

In one of those posts, I noted this:

I want to clarify Autumn’s situation a bit. The Temporary Restraining Order filed by Bolger’s top-dollar law firm is not against Autumn herself. Rather, it is against the Calhoun County election commission who are enjoined from considering any different petition language submissions from Autumn. However, this is a very slick and backhanded move on their part. Here’s the timeline:

  • May, 2011 – Autumn submits petition language and which is then rejected
  • June 13, 2011 – Autumn has a clarity hearing on six additional language submissions. Two of these are approved but, due to a minor mistake in the title, she is asked to amend them during the hearing, which she does.
  • At the suggestion of the election commission, Autumn immediately resubmits one of the two approved petition languages so that there is no issue with her correcting it during the hearing — this would give her a single, clean petition language approval. The hearing on this scheduled for June 24th (yesterday).
  • On the afternoon of June 23rd, Bolger’s lawyers are granted a Temporary Restraining Order and Injunction against the election commission, prohibiting them from hearing Autumn’s “clean” petition language submission and, simultaneously file appeals against the two they did approve.

In the process of filing the paperwork for all of this, they also file a “Motion for Ex Parte Order Allowing Brief in Excess of Page Limit”. Why did they do this? Because the two appeals they file are nearly two-hundred pages in length and Calhoun County charges Autumn $1 per page for a copy. In other words, they make it impossible for her to get the paperwork by making it too expensive.

So, in summary, they stopped the election commission from hearing Autumn’s clean petition language submission, appealed the first two since the election commission oddly allowed her to amend them during the hearing, and then submitted briefs so long that there is no way Autumn can afford to see them prior to the appeal hearing.

This is how the Speaker of the House of Michigan, a Republican, is treating a citizen exercising her constitutionally-protected rights. It it slimy. It is anti-democratic. It’s immoral. And this is exactly why Autumn’s recall against Bolger needs to be successful. He is the antithesis of the type of person we should have making our laws, much less as the Speaker of the House.

It turns out that in that paperwork and part of Bolger’s legal tactic is a challenge to the constitutionality of the Calhoun County Election Commission. I know, I know. It’s difficult to believe that the Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives would stoop this low and use such a flagrantly absurd approach. But, I have spoken with Richard Lindsey, the legal council for Calhoun County and he assures me this is so. When the legal filings were submitted last week, Mr. Lindsey was on vacation. He returned this week and, yesterday morning received a 20-pound box of legal filings from Bolger’s lawyers. The hearing is was scheduled for this Friday. However, Mr. Lindsey doesn’t have a staff – he IS the legal department for the County. He also is not a constitutional lawyer so he does not have the expertise to fight this on his own. He is meeting with the Election Commission next week to determine their path forward and the hearing has tentatively been rescheduled for July 18th.

Because of his limited resources, Mr. Lindsey may bring in help from the State Attorney General, Republican Bill Schuette, something that does not give me a great deal of hope.

When I spoke to Mr. Lindsey, I reminded him that he is Autumn Smith’s advocate in this situation. She is not a party in Bolger’s legal filings so she would have to intervene legally in order to have a say herself. Given her economic situation, this is highly unlikely unless an attorney steps up to help her pro bono.

Jase Bolger is clearly freaking out about having to face a recall. Also clear is that this is nothing more than a stall-and-delay tactic, designed to wear down Autumn’s efforts and her ability to move forward. It’s both telling and sickening that he is willing to stoop to this level in order to avoid facing his constituents at the ballot box.

And it’s all the more reason that Autumn Smith’s efforts are so very , very important.

If you wish to help out with Autumn’s recall effort, you can donate to via her Act Blue page.

(Note: this screenshot is from yesterday. As of today, just over $500 has been raised.)

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