It’s great to see the watchdogs watching the dogs.
Anyone who has been paying attention to the political career of Michigan Attorney General Bill “Shady” Schuette knows that he’s been running for governor for decades. Each rung on his political ladder has been one more step toward his ultimate goal, at least so far as Michigan politics goes.
For the first three years of his time as AG, Schuette has spent our tax dollars on his own personal, rabidly conservative, homophobic, xenophobic, corporatist agenda. I outlined his sordid history back in 2014 in a piece titled Bill Schuette: Michigan’s own Ken Cuccinelli – extreme, self-serving, and all up in your bedroom. This is a man so extreme that he has made a national name for himself. Although he’s currently working hard to distance himself from the disgraced Snyder administration by taking a sudden and vigorous interest in the Flint water crisis, prior to this he’s spent time (and our money) fighting marriage equality, the Affordable Care Act, attacking workers and unions, promoting polluters, and a whole host of regressive issues not supported by most Michiganders.
But thanks to fine reporting by the Detroit Free Press, we now know that Schuette is using his office for more than just promoting his own personal vile political agenda. He’s also using it to pursue even more political power by staffing up his office with political operatives who support his run for governor:
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has loaded his taxpayer-funded office payroll with Republican campaign activists in the run-up to his 2018 campaign for governor, a Free Press investigation has found.
Schuette also has used no-bid state contracts to pay more than $130,000 to two influential Republicans — one of whom has been active in the tea party movement that is important in winning a Republican primary, records show.
It’s little surprise that Trump wants Schuette in as governor. Schuette is politically aligned with him on most issues from the repeal of the Affordable Care Act to the Muslim travel ban.
The state constitution and civil service rules prohibit hiring or firing employees based on partisan considerations, enshrining the idea that a professional state workforce based solely on merit should remain in place, regardless of what party or leader is in power.
But this year, in advance of his September announcement that he is running for governor, Schuette hired as civil servants four “constituent relations representatives,” also known as “executive office representatives,” who are all Republican activists or experienced GOP campaign operatives, records obtained under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act show. […]
Schuette was unapologetic Dec. 6, when a reporter pointed out that his executive office representatives were Republican activists and Schuette supporters.
“They’d better be, or they’re not going to be working for me,” he said.
On November 1st of last year, three weeks after his formal announcement that he is running for governor in 2018, the Michigan Attorney General’s website looked like this:
The next day, a profound change occurred. The state government website for the state’s top law enforcement official suddenly began to look, for all intents and purposes, like a campaign website for Bill Schuette:
The transformation (which is still in place as I write this) took place on the same day that a Super PAC was announced supporting Shady Schuette’s campaign for governor:
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, already sitting on a $2.3 million war chest in his run for governor, is set to benefit from additional aerial support.
Former Republican Governors Association executive director Phil Cox and veteran Michigan strategist Stu Sandler this week announced formation of a new super political action committee to independently support Schuette’s gubernatorial campaign.
The Better Jobs Stronger Families PAC also includes legal counsel Charlie Spies, a Michigan native and Washington, D.C., attorney who helped run massive super PACs for former presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.
In a press release announcement, Cox and Sandler praised Schuette and noted he’s already won endorsements from GOP leaders like President Donald Trump and Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller.
“[President Trump] wants a Republican that can win, and that Republican is Bill Schuette,” said Cox, who will serve as chairman of the new committee.
Based the shocking revelations in the Detroit Free Press reporting, the progressive watchdog group Progress Michigan has filed a Hatch Act complaint against Shady Schuette for using public funds to promote his candidacy. From their press release:
Attorney General Schuette violated federal law when he hired current and former campaign staffers and political operatives to taxpayer-funded positions in his office, Progress Michigan said in a Hatch Act complaint mailed to the Office of Special Counsel in Washington, D.C. on January 3rd.
The complaint centers around an investigative report by the Detroit Free Press showing Schuette stacking his public office with GOP campaign operatives who have been and/or are working on his Attorney General and gubernatorial campaigns.
“Schuette has clearly used and is using his official authority and influence as Attorney General to affect the result of his own nomination and election efforts by hiring and contracting with his own paid political campaign staff, providing them with public jobs from which they are to assist his nomination and election efforts. This is political patronage at its worst which the Hatch Act is intended to prevent,” the complaint states.
“Bill Schuette’s job as Attorney General is to protect the people of the State of Michigan from scam artists, shady businesses and greedy corporate CEO’s who take advantage of the citizens of our state. If he wants to run for governor, fine, but he can’t use public funds that are meant to protect the people of Michigan. He needs to keep his campaign work and his responsibilities as attorney general separate,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Schuette has been an elected official for nearly as long as I have been alive, and he should know better than to misuse his office, but we’re not surprised by this type of shady behavior from him anymore.”
The Hatch Act complaint is the latest attempt by Progress Michigan to hold Schuette accountable for playing fast and loose with public funds to advance his political ambitions. On Tuesday, the watchdog group announced it was filing a campaign finance violation complaint with the Michigan Secretary of State’s office against Schuette and is currently fighting the AG in court over his refusal to release public records as required by the Freedom of Act.
Gov. Rick Snyder has been complete failure as a governor. His firmly held
religious corporatist belief that government should be run like a business has been completely proven to be a failed model that only those who stand to make immense corporate profits from actually subscribe to. However, if Rick Snyder’s epic failure in office got your hackles up, Shady Schuette’s approach to politics and “governing” should make you run screaming toward the nearest campaign office of your favorite Democratic candidate for governor to get involved. The menace that he represents is (at least) an order of magnitude worse than that of Snyder.