Calley claims Schuette worked 104 full days since 2011, while AG says he's 'on duty 24/7'

Jonathan Oosting
The Detroit News
GOP gubernatorial candidates Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, left, and Attorney General Bill Schuette participate in a televised debate at the WOOD TV8 studios, in Grand Rapids on May 9.

Lansing — Lt. Gov. Brian Calley accused Attorney General Bill Schuette on Tuesday of not working full-time for Michigan taxpayers based only on his reading of the work calendar of his Republican gubernatorial rival two weeks before the primary election.

Schuette’s official calendar, obtained by Calley’s campaign through a Freedom of Information Act request, suggests the attorney general worked 104 full eight-hour work days since taking office in 2011, Calley claimed as he released the document.

Calley's measurement was based merely on events on the calendar. The calendar doesn't include any work that Schuette did outside of official meetings and events. 

Schuette’s office called the claim — reiterated in a new television ad by the Calley campaign — “another political attack” on an attorney general who “has been on duty 24/7 since he took the oath of office.”

There are no or very few scheduled items on Schuette’s public calendar for 1,054 official work days, according to Calley, who said his campaign’s analysis is “generous” to Schuette and does not ding the Midland Republican for days with at least 60 to 90 minutes of scheduled activities. The lieutenant governor used it to argue that Schuette has been "off duty" for Michigan taxpayers.

“The people of the state of Michigan work very hard, and they deserve an attorney general that works just as hard,” Calley told reporters during a press conference in downtown Lansing, suggesting Schuette is instead focused on political and personal endeavors.

“I don’t doubt he works hard on his election. I don’t doubt that he works hard on his real estate deals, but he needs to work hard for the people of the state of Michigan. He has a six-figure salary, and I dare say that this is an unprecedented level of non-work, in terms of an official capacity.”

The attack is a role reversal for Calley, a Portland Republican who has faced questions and criticism over his own workload after completing a master’s degree at Harvard University in Boston while serving as lieutenant governor, a role that also makes him president of the state Senate.

Attorney general spokeswoman Andrea Bitely did not respond to specific questions about Schuette’s average weekly hours or how much of his work may not be outlined in the event-based document.

But in a statement, Bitely said Schuette “runs an office that manages 40,000 cases a year and has spent days, night and weekends putting predators like Larry Nassar behind bars when no one else did.”

Stu Sandler, executive director of a super political action committee supporting Schuette, in late May first called on Calley to refund a third of his $111,510 salary because he missed a third of state Senate session days while taking classes at Harvard.

“For Brian Calley to attack anyone’s work ethic is laughable,” Sandler said Tuesday. “We will be sending the lieutenant governor a mirror so he can see that he is the state official who has lacked work ethic and stole from the taxpayers.  Brian Calley once again proves he is a part-time lieutenant governor.”

Calley’s calendar attack is the latest in a string of attempted bomb droppings by the typically mild-mannered lieutenant governor, who has trailed Schuette in most recent public opinion polls of the GOP primary.

He shocked Schuette at a May forum by exposing his rival’s lucrative Virgin Island real estate deals while accusing the attorney general of violating a pledge to put his assets into a blind trust.

Other documents showed Schuette had used state staffers to sign or notarize personal real estate documents, prompting a request for a probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Former Wayne County executive Bob Ficano on Monday separately asked the Ingham County Circuit Court to launch a grand jury investigation of Schuette.

Both requests for a criminal investigation were initiated by Democrats, and Schuette supporters have written them off as political attacks.

Schuette campaign strategist John Sellek said Tuesday that Calley is “losing and desperate” to hide his own work schedule while attending Harvard between 2013 and 2015, “during the time the Flint water crisis exploded.”

Calley said his role as president of the state Senate is largely “ceremonial” and not the main part of his job as lieutenant governor, unless he is needed to break a tie vote.

“Most of the Harvard work was done remotely and didn’t require me physically to be on campus,” Calley said. “But I’m very confident in saying you won’t find weeks where I put in less than 40 (hours on state work). In fact, I think even when school was on the average was probably well over 60 hours per week.”

Calley said his campaign is computing his own official workload but declined to release his full calendar, which is not subject to public records requests because the executive branch is exempt from the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

Calley said he wants to expand the public records law to include the governor’s office but said he couldn’t release his own calendar now without “releasing a bunch of others” as well because “most of my work is with other people.”

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon appeared to revel in the GOP infighting.

“We’re glad Bill Schuette and Brian Calley are finally recognizing that neither of them have been doing their jobs,” Dillon said in a statement. “Of course, you don’t need to look any further than our declining schools, crumbling roads and ongoing water crisis to know Republicans in Lansing have been a failure for the past eight years.”

Bitely defended Schuette’s work as attorney general, saying he takes on “the biggest and most important cases in our state. The office has stopped “scam artists from hurting Michigan seniors,” helped kids stand up to bullies with the OK2SAY hotline, recovered “$252,567,153 in back child support payments and so much more,” she said.

Schuette’s campaign earlier Tuesday asked all Republican primary candidates to join him in pledging to support whoever wins the Aug. 7 primary.

“I’m very confident in saying all four Republicans are better than all three Democrats,” Calley said. “But I’m going to win, and I’m going to vote for me.”

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