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Inman recall campaign is 208 signatures short, election officials say

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — The campaign to unseat state Rep. Larry Inman fell 208 signatures short of the number required to spur a recall election, according to a new analysis by the Michigan Bureau of Elections.

Rep. Larry Inman, R-Traverse City

The bureau released its formal report on the recall campaign's signatures Thursday night, the latest development in weeks of litigation and procedural volleys over the petition signatures.

The campaign issued a statement on Friday morning saying it was "disappointed" with the result, which Sondra Shaw Hardy, a recall committee member, described as the "final recall outcome."

"Despite the final recall outcome, we showed ourselves to be a community of people who raise our voices for fair representation and a democratic process with integrity," she said in the press release. "And that’s really something to celebrate today."

The campaign previously announced it would hold a press conference at 4:30 p.m. Friday on the steps of the county courthouse in Grand Traverse County to "respond to the anticipated decision of the Michigan Bureau of Elections," according to a Facebook post.

Inman, a third-term lawmaker from Williamsburg near Traverse City, has faced charges of attempted extortion and solicitation of a bribe. On Dec. 10, a jury found Inman not guilty of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation but deadlocked on the two other charges, which remain unresolved.

After the charges were revealed in May 2019, the Inman Recall Committee launched with the hope of giving voters the chance to remove him from office.

The recall campaign needed to collect 12,201 valid signatures to get the recall before voters. The campaign submitted 13,871 signatures to the bureau of elections on Nov. 22, according to the bureau's most recent report.

But the bureau initially blocked the recall because the signed petitions circulated among voters mistakenly omitted a word from the language that was approved for the petitions by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers. That led to a court fight, and the Michigan Supreme Court decided on Dec. 30 that the petitions shouldn't have been rejected over typos.

Despite that victory, the recall campaign faced another challenge because election officials initially deemed it 94 signatures short of the 12,201 required. Officials determined hundreds of the campaign's signatures to be invalid because of errors and because individuals who signed weren't registered to vote.

After the Supreme Court decision, the Court of Appeals gave the campaign until Wednesday to try to prove some of the signatures that election officials labeled invalid were actually valid.

The recall campaign submitted 911 signatures initially determined to be invalid that it argued should have been counted as valid, according to a report from the bureau of elections.

But Lansing area elections attorney Eric Doster submitted another 785 signatures that were initially determined to be valid that he believed should have been counted as invalid. Doster has served as general counsel to the Michigan Republican Party, but it's unclear whom he was working for on the Inman recount.

This document lists the findings of the Michigan Bureau of Elections from its analysis of petition signatures submitted by the campaign to recall Rep. Larry Inman, R-Williamsburg.

After the bureau of elections examined the submissions, the bureau added 166 valid signatures but removed 279 invalid signatures. The moves left the recall campaign with 11,993 valid signatures — 208 signatures short of the 12,201 required to spur a recall, according to the new analysis from the bureau.

Under a decision from the Court of Appeals, election officials had until Friday to order a recall primary, which would have taken place March 10.

Inman's attorney, Chris Cooke, has previously said the recall effort should end because it was based on an indictment that was ruled "defective" by the jury's verdict on Dec. 10.