Chatfield urges indicted GOP lawmaker Inman to resign or risk expulsion

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

Lansing — A resolution introduced Tuesday by Michigan's Republican House speaker urges indicted lawmaker Rep. Larry Inman to resign or face the potential of “further disciplinary action.”

House Speaker Lee Chatfield said Inman’s alleged attempt to sell his vote on prevailing wage legislation to a labor union and subsequent statements to the press have “drawn ridicule and disgrace” to the state House, shaken the public trust and distracted “from the serious issues and debates before this body.”

Chatfield, who previously refrained from discussing expulsion, wrote in the resolution that the House would reserve “the right to take further disciplinary action” if Inman refuses to resign.

House Minority Leader Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, co-sponsored the legislation. 

Inman pleaded not guilty last week to federal charges of bribery, extortion and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He has resisted calls to resign in the nearly three weeks since a federal grand jury handed down his indictment.

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

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Council of Carpenters and Millwrights during the Legislature’s consideration of a controversial 2018 initiative that repealed the state’s prevailing wage law for construction workers.

According to text messages contained in the indictment, Inman solicited political contributions in exchange for a “no” vote, but eventually voted yes on the proposal, which passed the House by a small margin in June 2018.

“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,” Inman said in one text, according to the indictment.

Inman agreed to interviews with several news outlets after his indictment and argued he was innocent of the charges. Federal prosecutors have indicated they intend to use video from those interviews, including one with The Detroit News, in their case against the legislator.

The resolution introduced Tuesday cites Inman’s apparent acknowledgement in those interviews of  “the authenticity of the text messages” as well as a separate statement he made to The News on the scandal:

"I think that’s the lesson learned: If you're going to have a communication with a lobbyist, have it one-on-one rather than by text.”

The law cited in the resolution to justify “further disciplinary action” allows the House to expel a member by a two-thirds vote of the House. 

Expulsions are rare. The last one came in September 2015 when the House in a marathon session expelled GOP state Rep. Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell after Republican state Rep. Todd Courser of the Lapeer area resigned before the chamber could vote on his fate.

Chatfield told The News last week he’d take the question of expulsion proceedings “one step at a time” and said he had no knowledge of what Inman was referencing in his texts with his comments about “12” lawmakers.

“They’re not consistent from one text to another,” the speaker said. “I think the representative at some points has proven he was delusional in some moments.”

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