Michigan House Republicans kick Inman out of caucus

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Rep. Larry Inman, R-Traverse City, discusses his recent indictment on bribery charges inside his Lansing office.

State Rep. Larry Inman has been booted from the House Republican caucus following news of his federal indictment last week on allegations that the Traverse City lawmaker attempted to sell his vote last year on a prevailing wage repeal. 

Inman denied the allegations last week in an interview with The Detroit News and vowed he would return for House's Tuesday session. But he was excused from Tuesday's House session following his dismissal from the caucus.

Inman's removal from caucus means that third-term lawmaker can no longer participate in the party's closed-door meetings or take advantage of support services available to caucus members. He still takes part in voting on legislation and continues to receive his $71,685 annual salary.

A federal grand jury indicted him on charges of bribery, extortion and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Prosecutors allege Inman attempted to sell his vote to the Michigan Regional Carpenters and Millwrights union by pressuring the union to make political donations to himself and 11 other lawmakers ahead of the June 2018 vote.

Inman is expected to be arraigned May 29 on the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 

Last week, House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, removed Inman from his committee assignments, gave over management of his Lansing office to the House Business Office and asked the Northern Michigan lawmaker to resign.

Inman said he would do no such thing and said Chatfield’s request was merely “protocol.”

In a short statement Tuesday , House Republican Caucus Chair Eric Leutheuser said the caucus voted to remove Inman from the group “effective immediately.”

Chatfield wouldn't say what the vote was for Inman's removal from the caucus, but said the decision required two-thirds support. Inman's conduct was "unbecoming of a representative to serve in our caucus," the speaker said, but he declined to answer questions about potential expulsion proceedings.

"We did not feel it was appropriate for him to be in a room where we were deciding moving forward on legislation and being a part of those conversations," Chatfield said. "He has lost the faith and trust of the Republican caucus."

Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox supported the decision.

“Republicans are committed to honest government which puts the needs of the people first," Cox said in a Tuesday statement. "I applaud the Michigan House Republican Caucus for removing Larry Inman, who is accused of violating this trust.”  

According to the federal indictment, Inman spoke via text message to an unnamed union representative June 3, asking where “the rest of the trades” were on “checks.”

“We only have 12, people to block it. You said all 12 will get $30,000 each to help there (sic) campaigns. That did not happen, we will get a ton of pressure on this vote,” according to Inman's text.

The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights had donated $6,000 to Inman’s campaign committee between October 2017 and May 2018 but did not make additional donations after his initial June 3 text message, per the indictment.

Inman ended up voting to repeal the law, which had guaranteed union wages and benefits for workers on government-funded construction projects. The Republican-led House narrowly approved the measure in a 56-53 vote.

Several Republican lawmakers have denied knowledge of Inman’s alleged scheme and vowed they were never approached by the lawmaker regarding their votes on the prevailing wage issue. 

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