Petition seeking recall of AG Bill Schuette OK’d

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

A recall petition targeting Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has cleared a technical hurdle with the Board of State Canvassers unanimously approving its language and clearing the way for backers to begin collecting signatures.

Those looking to oust Schuette from his elected post will need to gather 789,133 signatures in order to put the recall on the ballot. And they will have roughly 60 days to do it once they start. Their petition language is good for only 180 days.

The petition, submitted by Calvin Hodges of Sterling Heights, includes reasoning for the attorney general’s removal centered around who Schuette tapped to investigate events in Flint that have led to the city’s long-running water contamination crisis.

“Attorney General Bill Schuette...on January 25, 2016 publicly announced that he had appointed attorney Todd Flood as special counsel to spearhead the attorney general's Flint water crisis probe,” according to the recall petition language.

“He’s disingenuous...,” Hodges said Thursday of Schuette, following the Board of Canvassers’ announcement. “There is no need for the attorney general to do anything other than get out of the way and let the feds handle (the Flint water investigations).”

The appointment of Flood, a former Wayne County assistant prosecutor, was originally called into question by some who cited a potential conflict of interest after the announcement. Many of the key decisions that led to the crisis came while Flint was under the control of an emergency manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican.

State records show Flood donated $3,000 to Snyder’s gubernatorial campaigns in 2010 and 2014, prompting an outcry from Democrats who have questioned Snyder’s handling of the Flint crisis. Flood also gave $1,200 to former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2004-05.

In January, following the announcement of Flood’s involvement in the investigation, Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon called Schuette’s appointments “incomprehensible.”

“The people of Flint deserve a truly independent investigation, not one spearheaded by a major Republican donor that has given thousands of dollars to Governor Snyder and has business entanglements that could present serious conflicts of interest,” Dillon said in a statement at the time.

Schuette, however, introduced Flood by promising an investigation free of political tangles.

“This investigation will be thorough, this investigation will be exhaustive, and this investigation will be independent,” he said in January. “This investigation is about beginning the road back — the road back to rebuild and to regain and to restore trust in government.”

Thus far, three people have been charged as result of the investigation: two employees with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and one employee with the city of Flint.

On Thursday, Schuette’s office responded to the petition language approval.

“Attorney General Schuette believes strongly that it is his duty to protect the citizens of Michigan by thoroughly investigating what went wrong in Flint,” spokeswoman Andrea Bitely wrote in an emailed statement. “The attorney general is not taking this lightly and this investigation will be without fear or favor.”

Hodges recognizes the task before him in terms of collecting the necessary signatures for the recall to wind up on the ballot. And while he has not official support system in place, he indicated there are others out there who will likely be willing to support his efforts.

“I plan to meet with other like-minded individuals who have similar petitions in motion and try to make a concerted effort with them,” he said. “That would be the best way to do it... If everyone goes out at the same time and tries to get this stuff signed, we’re bound to be successful.”

JLynch@detroitnews.com

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