House OKs resolution urging indicted lawmaker to resign

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Lansing — The Michigan House of Representatives approved a resolution 98-8 Thursday urging indicted GOP lawmaker Larry Inman to resign or face the potential of “further disciplinary action.”

The resolution from House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, and House Minority Leader Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, says the Williamsburg Republican’s alleged attempts to sell his vote drew “ridicule and disgrace” to the House, “shaking the public trust and confidence in this legislative body, staining the honor, dignity and integrity of the House, and distracting from the serious policy issues and debates before this body.”

Rep. Larry Inman, R-Traverse City, discusses his recent indictment on bribery charges inside his Lansing office.

The resolution notes that the House will reserve “the right to take further disciplinary action” if Inman refuses. 

The resolution was introduced in June shortly before Inman’s attorney announced the lawmaker would be seeking treatment for opioid abuse. 

Inman pleaded not guilty in May to federal charges of bribery, extortion and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He has resisted calls to resign and has not returned to session since a federal grand jury handed down his indictment that month. 

He remains free on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

"It's been my opinion from Day 1 that Rep. Inman should resign in his official capacity as state representative, and I'm glad that the House took action today," said Chatfield, who did not answer questions about what other actions the House may take. 

Greig said that the recall effort underway in Inman's district is perhaps the best path forward. 

"That's really the best outcome, right, that the community that you represent puts on the pressure for you to do the right thing," she said. 

Federal prosecutors have alleged Inman attempted to sell his vote to the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights during the Legislature’s consideration of a controversial 2018 initiative that repealed the state’s prevailing wage law for construction workers. The initiative became law with the support of Inman in a close House vote.

Inman attorney Chris Cooke confirmed his client has “successfully completed” an opioid treatment program but said the third-term lawmaker has no plans to resign. 

“He went through this very difficult time and this very difficult inpatient treatment, and now that he walked out the door of that treatment, they’re going to push this resolution?” Cooke said of the House. “I don’t understand that rationale.” 

Cooke blasted what he called a “lynch-mob mentality” by the House, arguing the resolution could make it difficult for Inman to receive a fair trial or return to work.

“I just don’t understand the rush to judgment that is being undertaken by a constitutional body of the state of Michigan,” he said, noting Inman is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

“They should be more interested in whether or not the federal government has the jurisdiction to enter state politics and enforce what the federal government believes to be a violation of federal law.”

U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker is considering Cooke’s request to toss bribery and extortion charges against Inman on jurisdictional grounds. But he declined to dismiss a third charge against Inman for allegedly lying to the FBI. 

New legal briefs in the case are due Friday. 

Traverse City-area activists are also attempting to recall Inman but have not yet started collecting petition signatures because Cooke filed a notice of intent to appeal form approval by the Board of State Canvassers. 

The group now expects to begin circulating petitions by the end of September and would have 60 days to gather roughly 12,000 signatures to force a recall election. 

“The core of why we’re doing this is we need representation, and we don’t have it right now,” organizer Staci Haag said Thursday. “If he resigns or he’s expelled, that’s great. But he’s indicated he’s going to fight that every step of the way, which is why we’re moving forward with this recall effort.”