Mark Ouimet: Wrong for Washtenaw County, wrong for Michigan

On so many levels…

Back in 2010, I documented the obscene campaign run against Democrat Christine Green in Michigan’s 52nd State House District. While Michigan Republicans ran no less than five hideous robocalls against her, sent out mailings with her home phone number on them and generally ran a smear campaign against one of the most upstanding citizens in the Ann Arbor area, Mark Ouimet sat back and allowed it to happen. And, all the while, said he was going to bring peace and civility to the House and work across the aisle with Democrats in our state legislature.

Here’s what I wrote about it at the time.

How are you going to work with Democrats when (a) you can’t even get your Party to stop running a mudslinging attack campaign against your Democratic opponent and (b) you and your party have so demonized Democrats that there is simply no longer any way for you to work with them?

The truth is, as I pointed out in my last piece about Ouimet, that Mark Ouimet is NOT a moderate and he does NOT work with Democrats, though he’s been claiming he would since at least two decades. Here’s what he said in a 1992 Ann Arbor News article (pdf):

Ouimet, a two-term Ann Arbor city councilman…stresses that he would bring a businessman-banker’s perspective to state issues and would intend to function as an outsider-peacemaker in Lansing.

“We need partnerships to be successful, not barn dances and bickering and political infighting…we’ve got to put everybody on the same side of the desk,” he said.

And then, when he got to Lansing, he voted with the extreme Republicans in our House 99.2% of the time. So much for “outsider-peacemaker”.

It’s worth noting that Ouimet hasn’t always been so ideologically conservative. In the same article we learn that, despite his recent anti-women votes in the state House, Mark Ouimet was once pro-Choice and even supported Medicaid-funded abortions:

Both candidates say they favor abortion rights as permitted in the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, oppose legislative restrictions and would support Medicaid-funded abortions.

That sort of moderate approach appears to be gone. Not only is he voting in lockstep with his party and their extreme tea party agenda, he is receiving campaign contributions and endorsements from the far right and from countless PACs. Michelle Rhee’s anti-teacher “Students First” has endorsed Ouimet. Campaign finance records released last week show that he’s getting money from a laundry list of ideologically extreme Republican legislators, banking PACs, energy company PACs, the ultra-conservative DeVos family, the far-right Great Lakes Education Project and a host of other ideologically extreme groups and business interests. As one person put it, Mark Ouimet represents his West Michigan, right-wing donors and not his southeast Michigan, centrist constituents.

Mark Ouimet also has a history of not being completely straight with his constituents or with Washtenaw County voters. In 2010, he was accused of inappropriately taking tens of thousands of dollars of reimbursements for fees and expenses during his time as Commissioner. He also lied about his educational background and falsely claimed endorsements he did not have, a story that I broke.

Meanwhile, this year, Ouimet’s pals at the Michigan Republican Party are running the same sort of smear campaign against Saline Mayor Gretchen Driskell that they did against Christine Green in 2010. They claim that, for example, that she did work for a company that presented a conflict of interest for her as mayor. What they don’t tell you is that no evidence was ever found to prove this outrageous allegation, even after a full investigation by the attorney for the City of Saline, because no conflict of interest existed. All the while Ouimet stands to the side, feebly saying he wishes they wouldn’t do this but doing nothing to stop it as the gutter politics of the Michigan Republican Party are used to smear a successful, intelligent public servant with a history of doing what is right for her constituents.

Mark Ouimet is, once again, hiding his extreme agenda from the voters of Washtenaw County. He has voted to raise taxes on senior citizens and low income Michiganders. He has voted to strip $1 billion out of our education system. He has taken that money and used it fund a monstrous tax break for corporations. He has voted to restrict women’s access to reproductive services, including safe and legal abortions. He has voted with his extreme colleagues to take away teachers’ ability to collectively bargain, reduced their wages and benefits and treated these heroes who educate our children as if they were greedy leeches attached to the jugular vein of society.

In short, Mark Ouimet has been lying to his constituents about who he is and what he has done as a legislator. It’s time to send him back to his business partners and put Gretchen Driskell at his desk in Lansing. Gretchen Driskell will fight to restore funding to our schools and to bring sanity back to our tea-party driven legislature. You can read my interview with this fine candidate HERE.

On November 6th, vote for Gretchen Driskell and send a message to Lansing that we’re not going to tolerate far-right Republican extremism any longer.

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