Deputy clerk: Ousted Macomb Co. clerk to appeal

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
Deputy Macomb County Clerk Jackie Ryan holds up a letter stating she's been placed on administrative leave March 28 in the wake of County Clerk Karen Spranger’s ouster.

Controversial Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger will appeal a judge’s decision to oust her, Spranger’s deputy clerk said.

“She’s not removed,” Jackie Ryan told the media in the parking lot of the building where her office is housed. “She’s appealing. She will be appealing.”

“This is a wrong being done to her,” Ryan said.

She said she had no specifics on Spranger’s appeal.

Ryan made the remarks after she was told she has been placed on an administrative leave and was instructed to leave the building.

Chief Deputy Macomb County Executive Mark Deldin said Ryan was placed on a paid leave.

He said the county is able to remove her as chief deputy clerk because she was appointed by Spranger and a court nullified Spranger's ability to hold the office. 

Ryan said the St. Clair County court where Tuesday’s ruling was made is the wrong court to handle the case. It should have been handled in federal court, she said.

“The only one who can remove the county clerk is the governor,” she said.” The judge had no right to do this."

She also said removing Spranger was "a disservice to the people of Macomb County.”

On Wednesday, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said the county moved to have Spranger removed from office because she violated election law, not because of her job performance.

"It had nothing to do with her competency, incompetency, being disliked or partisan politics," he said. "It had everything to do with the question of whether she lived at the residence she said she did when she filed to run for office."

He said if the court had ruled the other way, he would support the judge's decision.

Hackel also said whoever is appointed by the Macomb County Circuit Court's chief judge to serve the remainder of Spranger's term has the authority to fire Ryan or keep her on. 

Ryan also said an official with the county executive’s office called her Tuesday night and told her not to report to work Wednesday.

Deldin confirmed he called Ryan and gave her those instructions.

Karen Spranger

He said he and County Executive Mark Hackel discussed the matter and wanted to safeguard information and data stored in the county clerk's office.

"We felt it was best to immediately terminate all of the deputy clerk's technology access," Deldin said. "But more importantly, we were concerned about creating and maintaining a safe work environment for our employees who felt threatened, intimidated and harassed for the last 18 months."

Ryan said she showed up at her office in the morning and wasn’t allowed beyond the public area of the office, which is where the Register of Deeds is located.

She said later she was permitted to get into her office to collect her personal belongings.

Deldin said Ryan was also allowed to collect Spranger's personal belongings.

She was also given a letter from the county’s Labor Relations Department informing her she had been put on leave.

“But all that was after I demanded to be let into my office and demanded documentation that I was on leave.”

Meanwhile, a Republican should be appointed to succeed Spranger, the chairwoman of Macomb County's Republican Party said Wednesday.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said Tuesday circuit judges are meeting to decide who will temporarily replace Spranger, “hopefully, with a decision within the next day or two.”

Spranger, a Republican who had never held office previously, was removed Tuesday from office by a St. Clair County Circuit Court judge after more than a year of political turmoil, court battles and physical confrontations.

“Macomb County voters spoke loudly for change in the 2016 delivering historic victories up and down the ticket for Republican leadership including President Donald J. Trump, Treasurer Larry Rocca, Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller and Karen Spranger as County Clerk,” Cathy Kirk said. “The ruling today by the St. Clair County Circuit Court has removed Karen Spranger as County Clerk finding that she lied on documents filed to run for office and thus was not eligible to serve.

"The 14 Judges of the Macomb County Circuit Court will be making an interim appointment to fill this position until the voters voice is heard once again in a Special Election in November," she said. "When making this important appointment the judges should honor the will of the voters for Republican leadership in the office of County Clerk that was spoken with their votes. A Republican should be appointed.”