GOP leader: Force Stein to pay $5M for Michigan recount

Chad Livengood, and Jonathan Oosting

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s desired hand recount of Michigan’s presidential election results hasn’t even started, and a Republican state lawmaker is trying to make her pay the full tab.

As required by law, Stein paid $973,250 Wednesday for a hand recount of 4.8 million ballots that Secretary of State Ruth Johnson estimates will cost at least $5 million to administer.

State Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, introduced legislation Thursday that seeks to create a retroactive law requiring candidates who finish more than 5 percent behind the declared winner in an election to pay the full cost of a recount.

Stein finished a distant fourth place in the presidential election with 51,463 votes, more than 2.2 million behind Republican Donald Trump, the declared winner and president-elect. Trump’s margin over Stein is separated by more than 46 percentage points.

“I think what’s most captivating about this recount is the fact that the candidate themselves (Stein) has acknowledged that this recount is not meant to nor will it change the outcome for the election for that candidate,” said Lyons, chairwoman of the House Elections Committee.

Lyons’ House Bill 6097 is aimed squarely at making Stein pay for the full cost of a recount, which has been delayed pending an objection filed Thursday by Trump’s attorneys.

The legislation says it would retroactively take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

Mark Brewer, Stein’s Southfield-based attorney, said the retroactive clause aimed at “punishing” his client would be unconstitutional.

“You can’t retroactively change the law in the middle of a petition drive,” said. “If they pass it, we’ll see what a federal judge says. You can’t change the law to punish one individual.”

Lyons began drafting the bill Wednesday as Johnson announced taxpayers would be saddled with 80 percent of the cost of the recount.

“I think it in some ways degrades the credibility of the recount process … when a fourth-place finisher, who acknowledges that they will not change the outcome her … seeks a recount anyway,” Lyons said Wednesday.

Lyons, who is term-limited, was elected Kent County clerk in the Nov. 8 election.

“Democrat clerks, Republican clerks, the nightmare that is unfolding as a result of this recount is transcendent of what party somebody belongs to,” Lyons said Thursday. “It has shone a light on the recount process and the cost that taxpayers incur.”

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Twitter: @ChadLivengood