Michigan Senate leader expects Smith to resign

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said Tuesday he expects state Sen. Virgil Smith to voluntarily step down from office even though a judge is not requiring the Detroit Democrat’s resignation for pleading guilty to shooting up his ex-wife’s car last May.

Smith was in the Senate briefly Tuesday, one day after a Wayne County judge sentenced him to 10 months in jail and five years probation for firing up to 20 gun shots at his ex-wife’s car and physically assaulting her.

“I’m anticipating that Sen. Smith will resign at some point,” said Meekhof, R-West Olive.

Smith offered his resignation as part of a plea deal with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

But Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Talon said Monday he couldn’t enforce that part of the plea bargain, leaving it up to Smith to voluntarily step down.

Worthy’s office is re-examining the plea deal and has until Monday to file a brief about their objection to judge’s sentence if Smith doesn’t resign before then.

Smith did not take questions Tuesday from reporters.

Meekhof said he expects to meet Tuesday afternoon with Smith and discuss the “likely” resignation.

“This is what he told us he was going to do in his effort to make ... his sentencing as light as possible,” Meekhof said of Smith resigning. “He’s the one who initiated that conversation.”

The Republican leader said expelling the Democratic senator remains an option for the GOP-controlled Senate.

“That’s always a possibility, but not at the moment,” Meekhof told reporters. “It’s in the tool box of things we could do.”

Smith was charged felonious assault, malicious destruction of personal property $20,000 or larger, domestic violence assault and battery as well as felony firearm after a late-night May 10 domestic incident with his ex-wife Anistia Thomas outside of his east side home.

Over the past 10 months, Smith has been effectively sidelined in the Michigan Senate, stripped of his office staff, committee assignments and duties as assistant Democratic caucus whip.

Meekhof and Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich of Flint wanted to let the court decide Smith’s fate before moving to expel him.

Ananich said Tuesday he was waiting for the negotiations between Smith’s attorney and the prosecutor “to play itself out.”

“But I’m assuming that will be the end result,” Ananich said of a resignation.

Sen. Morris Hood III, D-Detroit, said was unsure Tuesday whether Smith should resign.

“I don’t know. I think it depends on what actually comes out of it,” Hood said. “... Right now, a decision is not before us.”

clivengood@detroitnews.com

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