The Michigan Supreme Court ruled on December 30, 2019, in relation to the recall petition targeting state Rep. Larry Inman (R), that a missing word was not a valid reason to throw out the 13,870 signatures submitted in the recall effort. The court found that, “The recall petition is proper because the reasons give for recall in the circulated petitions were not different than the reasons that were approved by the Board of Canvassers.”
The order reversed the December 20 ruling by the state Court of Appeals that upheld the Bureau of Elections decision to reject the Inman recall due to a typo. The word “right” was omitted from the petition submitted in November 2019. In the petition filed in July 2019, the group described one of Inman’s charges as “Attempted Extortion Under Color of Official Right.” According to the Bureau of Elections, the petition language in the previously approved reasons for the recall has to match exactly.
Inman will face a recall election in May 2020 if the petition has enough valid signatures. The initial review by the state Bureau of Elections found that 1,763 of the signatures submitted were invalid, which left the effort 94 signatures short of the 12,201 needed to force a recall election.
According to the petition language, supporters tried to recall Inman due to his indictment on three felony counts and missing more than 80 votes during the 2019 legislative session. Federal prosecutors charged Inman in May 2019 with extortion, lying to the FBI, and lying to investigators about texts soliciting contributions. After the indictment was announced, Inman was stripped of his committee assignments, removed from the GOP caucus, and not allowed access to his office. On December 10, 2019, Inman was found not guilty of making a false statement to the FBI. The jury could not reach a decision on the charges of attempted extortion and soliciting a bribe.
Since 2011, 85 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 64 did not go to a vote, and three are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.
Michigan is under a divided government. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 22-16 margin and the state House by a 58-51 margin with one vacancy. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer was elected to the governor’s office in 2018.
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State legislative recalls