Conflict of interest much?
As I have been reporting on (HERE and HERE), the effort to repeal Public Act 4 — Michigan’s Emergency Manager law — is being challenged by a group called Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility. The group is asking elections officials — the Board of State Canvassers — to throw out all of the petitions because the heading is in the wrong font despite the fact that the petition printer’s affidavit says it is in the correct font. The challenge will be heard later this month by the Board. And one member of the panel has a major conflict of interest.
Citizen’s for Fiscal Responsibility is, as Michigan Radio reported yesterday, headed up by a guy named Bob LaBrant. Labrant, a retired head of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, currently works as the Senior Counsel for Sterling Corporation.
The Sterling Corporation also runs a group called Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility. Not the Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility. The MICHIGAN Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility. Two different groups. According to the Michigan Radio piece, LaBrant says that’s just a remarkable coincidence. Right. Sure it is.
As it turns out, Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility shares an address with Sterling Corporation. In other words, they are basically one in the same or, perhaps more accurately, if you include Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, THREE in the same. One of the partners at Sterling Corporation is a guy named Jeff Timmer.
In addition to his position with Sterling Corporation, Jeff Timmer is also one of four members of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, one of two Republicans on the bipartisan panel. As I said at the beginning, this is the group that will make a decision on whether or not Stand Up For Democracy’s petitions will be thrown out on a font size technicality. In other words, one of the people on the panel that will decide whether or not to throw out over 225,000 petition signatures is part of the same group that filed the complaint in the first place and is actively working against the repeal of Public Act 4.
According to elections officials, Timmer will decide for himself if he has a conflict of interest and must recuse himself, leaving a 2-to-1 Democratic majority on the panel.
So the question is this: will Jeff Timmer, a man with a clear and blatantly obvious conflict of interest, step aside and recuse himself?
Magic Eight Ball sez: Outlook not so good.
By the way, the other Republican on the Board of State Canvassers is Norman Shinkle, Deputy Chair of the Michigan Republican Party.
[CC Facepalm image credit: Cesar Astudillo | Flickr :: CC Exclamation Point image credit Simon Adriaensen | Flickr]