Thaddeus McCotter

Yesterday I talked about Congressman Kerry Bentivolio, who is running a write-in campaign to try to keep his seat after losing the Republican primary to David Trott. Bentivolio, who represents a collection of Oakland and Wayne County suburbs from Birmingham to Livonia, told me there was an unwritten rule, at least among Republicans, that you don’t challenge a congressman of your own party in a primary.

That is, as long as that congressman is doing a decent job. However, as I pointed out to Bentivolio, he did just that two years ago; he filed to run against Congressman Thaddeus McCotter.

McCotter later self-destructed and was disqualified from the ballot, but Bentivolio didn’t know that would happen when he filed.

He then told me why he did it. Bentivolio, a Vietnam veteran who is now 63, volunteered to serve in Iraq. His neck was broken, and he had to be evacuated.

Kerry Bentivolio wants you to know that much of what you’ve heard about him is wrong.

For the last two years, the media has called him the “accidental congressman.” He prefers, unexpected congressman.

He got to Washington after winning the Republican nomination in his suburban Detroit district when the incumbent, Thaddeus McCotter, was tossed off the primary ballot for fraudulent petition signatures. The GOP establishment recruited a former state senator to run a write-in campaign against him in the primary. She lost badly, and Bentivolio went on to win in November.

But this year, he in turn was defeated in the Republican primary by attorney and mortgage foreclosure king David Trott. But Bentivolio is running a full-press write-in campaign to try and keep his job.

Bentivolio has a reputation for not talking to the media, so I was surprised when he called me out of the blue yesterday afternoon. He was genial, warm and witty.

Basically, he feels that Trott and the GOP establishment stabbed him in the back, have worked for two years to ruin his reputation, and he isn’t going to take it anymore.

This week, it’s another shenanigans edition of It’s Just Politics. Thanks to Jack Lessenberry for his explainer on the latest political mischief coming out of Detroit. It’s important to note this kind of political behavior is nothing new: Very crowded primary ballots with names that are very similar; recruited by opposing campaigns. Efforts to divide the vote can also take into account ethnicity, gender when one side recruits candidates with no hope of winning but, can maybe split the vote to sink another campaign come Election Day. No matter what you think of political games, they’re pretty normal.

Mike Duggan, former hospital CEO, prosecutor and problem-solver for the late Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara launched his Detroit mayoral write-in campaign after he was booted from the ballot after one his opponents challenged him for filing his nomination petitions before he was a city resident for a full-year. But a lot of experts were giving his write-in effort a pretty good shot at getting him into the two-person runoff this coming fall. He’s topping the polls and appeared to have a good shot at winning a spot on the November runoff.

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International bridge crossing to be announced today

"Governor Rick Snyder is expected to announce this afternoon that the federal government has approved a deal to build a new international bridge between Detroit and Windsor-Ontario," Rick Pluta reports.
 

McCotter sues staffers for forged nomination peitions

"Ex-Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter has sued a former top aide and an ex-intern, saying they deliberately submitted forged nominating petitions in his name to keep him from seeking re-election.  Elections officials discovered bogus signatures on the Livonia Republican's petitions, keeping him off the 2012 primary ballot. McCotter quit Congress in July," the Associated Press reports.

Legislation could approve wolf hunting with no room for a referendum

"The state Senate could vote as soon as next week on legislation that could throw a wrench in an effort to ban wolf-hunting. The legislation would allow hunting of 39 species – including wolves. And it would be immune to a referendum," Rick Pluta reports.

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Republicans back money for dredging

"Some Republican state lawmakers say Governor Rick Snyder’s plans for emergency harbor dredging may not be enough. They unveiled a plan Tuesday that would set aside $30 million from the state’s 'rainy day' fund for emergency projects around the state. They say that’s what’s needed to address record-low water levels in the Great Lakes," Jake Neher reports.

Protests against removing American Indian mascots from schools

"Republican lawmakers at the state Capitol are protesting a Michigan Department of Civil Rights action. The complaint filed with the US Department of Education names 35 Michigan high schools that have American Indian mascots and nicknames. It asks the federal government to order schools to change their mascots or lose funding," Rick Pluta reports.

Attorney General dismisses charges against McCotter aids

"Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is appealing the dismissal of conspiracy charges against two former aides to a Detroit-area congressman accused in an election scandal. The men and two others were accused last year in the scandal involving bogus petition signatures. McCotter didn't make the ballot and quit Congress last July after nearly 10 years rather than finish his term," the Associated Press reports.

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter / U.S. House of Representatives

Another chapter in the Thaddeus McCotter petition fraud scandal came to a close today as a judge dropped felony conspiracy charges against two of McCotter's former staffers.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Margie Braxton found that the staffers were not involved in a planned conspiracy, merely that they were caught without enough signatures they day they needed them.

Eric Lawrence of the Detroit Free Press reports:

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Snyder wants to phase out property tax

Governor Rick Snyder and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley want the Legislature to enact a major tax overhaul before the end of the year. It would phase out Michigan’s tax on business and industrial equipment.

As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"The state's plan is to get rid of the tax on business equipment, furniture and supplies that brought in more than $1.2 billion in 2010, the most recent figures available, over the next 10 years. . . The phase out of the tax would begin in 2014 for small businesses and in 2016 for larger manufacturers. There would be no reimbursement to communities where personal property tax revenues are less than 2.5% of their total taxable value."

Southeast Michigan transit authority passes in Senate

Legislation to create a regional transit authority for southeast Michigan won approval from the state Senate Tuesday. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"The goal, backed strongly by Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, is a network of speedy, modern buses operated independently of Detroit Department of Transportation and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transit. The plan is to give the transit authority the power to coordinate routes between the rapid-transit system and the existing city and suburban bus lines to eliminate duplication of routes. DDOT and SMART would instead feed into the faster bus lines, freeing up both to provide better, more efficient local service."

Ex-aids to former Detroit Congressman enter pleas in petition fraud

"A former top aide to a Detroit-area congressman has pleaded no contest to forgery in an election scandal involving bogus petition signatures. Don Yowchuang was deputy district director to then-U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, a Republican from Livonia. Yowchuang admits making copies of petition signatures to try to qualify McCotter for the August primary election. Separately, McCotter former district director Paul Seewald pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, falsely signing a nominating petition as a circulator. McCotter didn't make the ballot and quit Congress in July," the AP reports.


McCotter aides enter pleas in petition fraud case

Nov 27, 2012
Former Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter jammed with his blues band after announcing his run for the presidency over the July 4th weekend in 2011.
Vincent Duffy / Michigan Radio

Two campaign staffers of former U.S. Representative Thaddeus McCotter have entered pleas on charges connected to the petition fraud scandal that forced the congressman’s resignation.

From the Detroit News:

McCotter's former deputy district director, Don Yowchuang, and a high school classmate of McCotter's, Paul Seewald, entered the pleas Tuesday before Wayne Circuit Court Judge Margie R. Braxton.

Former Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter jammed with his blues band after announcing his run for the presidency over the July 4th weekend in 2011.
Vincent Duffy / Michigan Radio

In Michigan's freaky 11th Congressional District, the Republican candidate both won AND lost on Election Day.

It all started here... when this guy's campaign imploded:

Then this reindeer rancher stepped into the race for the Republicans...

And two elections were needed to sort the mess out.

Brian Banks has eight felony convictions on his record, for things like bad checks and credit card fraud.

His landlord had him evicted from a rental property in Harper Woods last week, saying he had written bad checks and not paid his rent. Additionally, he was evicted from a second home in that city and a court ordered him to pay a nearly $4,000 judgment.

User: cncphotos / flickr

This week Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry talked about Proposal 6, how a new report indicates that the Michigan Merit Curriculum that was implemented in high schools in 2006 has not shown good results, and how two campaign staffers of former US Representative Thadeus McCotter will stand trial. They're charged with conspiring to get then-Congressman McCotter on the 2012 ballot with bogus petitions.

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Michigan curriculum has disappointing results

"An effort to improve Michigan’s high school academic standards appears to be having a disappointing result. The Michigan Merit Curriculum was implemented in Michigan high schools in 2006. Researchers from Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and the state of Michigan found that test scores improved only slightly for students  entering high school with strong academic skills.   But for those with weak skills, test scores fell and graduation rates declined," Steve Carmody reports.

Snyder says Prop 6 would cause court battle if passed

"Governor Rick Snyder is worried Proposal 6 on the November ballot would spark a lengthy court battle if it’s passed. The initiative would require a state-wide vote before any new international crossing could be built in the state. Governor Rick Snyder says his plan for a new international bridge in Detroit is not meant to put the existing Ambassador Bridge out of business. Current bridge owners say a new bridge is not necessary, and would be expensive for Michigan taxpayers. Canada has agreed to front the costs of the new bridge, and a number of studies have concluded there will be no new costs to state taxpayers," Jake Neher reports.

McCotter aids in court for campaign scandal

"Two men who worked for a Detroit-area congressman are returning to court to learn if they'll stand trial in a campaign scandal. Paul Seewald and Don Yowchuang are charged with conspiring to get then-Congressman Thaddeus McCotter on the 2012 ballot with bogus petitions. The judge says he'll make a decision on the matter today," the AP reports.

Former Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter jammed with his blues band after announcing his run for the presidency over the July 4th weekend in 2011.
Vincent Duffy / Michigan Radio

LIVONIA, Mich. (AP) - A former Detroit-area congressman says it was "shocking" to learn that he didn't have enough petition signatures to qualify for the 2012 election.

Thaddeus McCotter, a Republican from Livonia, is speaking publicly for the first time. He testified Thursday for the defense in the case against two high-ranking staffers who are charged with conspiracy and other crimes in submitting phony petitions to qualify McCotter for the August Republican primary.

A Livonia judge must determine if Paul Seewald and Don Yowchuang go to trial. McCotter has not been charged, although Judge Sean Kavanagh told him he had the right to remain silent.

McCotter quit Congress in July, weeks after being barred from the ballot.

He testified that he was repeatedly told by aides that he had enough signatures to run again.

via bentiviolioforcongress.com

Republican Kerry Bentivolio has moved on in the special election to replace Thaddeus McCotter in Michigan’s eleventh district.

Bentivolio was one of four Republicans vying to serve out the remainder of McCotter’s term in Congress.

He topped former State Senator Nancy Cassis and two others in the suburban Detroit district. He faces David Curson, the only Democrat on the ballot, in the special November general election.

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter / U.S. House of Representatives

Some voters in southeast Michigan have more than November's general election to think about.

Tomorrow, is is primary day in Michigan's 11th District.

That's when voters in parts of Wayne and Oakland counties will choose a temporary replacement for Republican U.S. Representative Thaddeus McCotter.

He quit in July after it was discovered that petition signatures were forged or copied in at least two of his campaigns.

Five Republicans are vying for the seat. They'll face a Democrat, a Libertarian and a U.S. Taxpayers Party Candidate in the November 6th general election.

The taxpayer tab for the special election will be at least $650,000.

Low voter turnout is predicted.

Four of McCotter's former staff  members have been charged in the petition scandal.

McCotter has not been charged.

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Biden's Labor Day visit

Vice President Joe Biden rallied in Detroit Monday during the Labor Day parade. "He talked about how America is better off today, in part because of the auto industry bailout.  That message will be a central theme for Democrats at this week’s national convention," Kate Wells reports.

Teacher retirement changes

"Governor Rick Snyder will sign legislation today  that will change how teachers and other school employees save for their retirement. Most school employees will have to pay more for their retirement benefits. School employees hired after today will no longer have a retirement health plan, but will pay into a medical savings account to purchase coverage when they are no longer working. Snyder says it will shore up the state’s credit rating, and ensure taxpayers won’t be saddled with the costs of a bailout years down the road. Teachers unions say the plan breaks promises made to school employees, and went to court on Friday with a legal challenge," Rick Pluta reports.

Voters decide on replacement for US Rep McCotter tomorrow

Some voters in Souteast Michigan are heading to the polls Wednesday to vote for a temporary replacement for Republican U.S. Representative Thaddeus McCotter. "McCotter quit in July after it was discovered that petition signatures were forged or copied in at least two of his campaigns. Five Republicans are vying for the seat. They'll face a Democrat, a Libertarian and a U.S. Taxpayers Party Candidate in the November 6th general election. The taxpayer tab for the special election will be at least $650,000 thousand dollars. Low voter turnout is predicted. Four of McCotter's former staff  members have been charged in the petition scandal. McCotter has not been charged," Rina Miller reports.

Some officials from Oakland County are trying to turn up the heat on Lansing to pay for a special election.

That election was called to replace Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, who resigned last month.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley called for the September 5th special election to fill out just the few remaining weeks of McCotter’s term. State officials maintain it’s required by law.

But that leaves local governments in suburban Detroit’s 11th district to pick up the tab.

Cassis for Congress

A special election has to be held to fulfill the rest of Thaddeus McCotter's term in the U.S. House of Representatives. McCotter resigned in the wake of a nominating petition mess.

Now, one of those running for McCotter's seat says she won't actively campaign for the special Sept. 5 election. The election will determine who will represent the 11th District for the six weeks until the Nov. election.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

While former state Sen. Nancy Cassis’ name will be on a special primary ballot on Sept. 5 to fill out the remainder of former U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter’s congressional term, she will not actively campaign for the seat.

“I want to make clear that I will not actively campaign for the primary,” she said Monday.

So Cassis isn't campaigning, but her name will appear on the ballot along with Steve King, Kenneth Crider, Carolyn Kavanah, and Kerry Bentivolio.

Bentivolio won the August primary for the full 2-year term for a new seat in the 11th District. He'll face a Democratic challenger in Nov.

Bill Schuette / Facebook.com

Not guilty pleas were entered today on behalf of three former staff members accused of forging or falsifying signatures on nominating petitions for former Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter.

McCotter's former deputy district director Don Yowchuang and district director Paul Seewald appeared in court in Livonia for arraignment. Both are free on $50,000 personal bond.

Mary Turnbull was a district representative for McCotter in Howell. She appeared this morning in Troy district court and was released on $5,000 bond.

Bill Schuette for Michigan Attorney General

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed criminal charges against former staffers of former Congressman Thaddeus McCotter.

The five-term Congressman resigned from office after fake signatures were found on his re-election petitions.

Schuette charged four McCotter staffers with conspiring to commit election fraud.

The charges range from felony conspiracy, to misdemeanor counts of falsely certifying petitions.

Schuette says the four used a variety of tricks to inflate the number of petition signatures needed to get McCotter on the ballot.

“They copied petitions, submitted petitions falsely signed by circulators, and did cut and paste jobs that would make an elementary art teacher cringe," he said.

Schuette says it’s clear McCotter was “asleep at the switch” while his staffers “acted above the law.”

There’s no evidence McCotter was aware of their schemes.

But Schuette says that if such evidence emerges, he won’t hesitate to “pull the trigger and file new charges.”

 Michigan’s Eleventh Congressional District is, on paper, what used to be thought of as a pretty conventional place. It includes a bunch of white-collar suburbs in Wayne and Oakland Counties, places like Birmingham and Troy; Livonia and Plymouth.

Back in the day, much of this turf was represented for nearly forty years by Bill Broomfield, a moderate Republican who never made waves, rocked a boat or faced a difficult November election.

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Emergency financial manager law update

The referendum to challenge Michigan’s emergency manager law is officially on the November ballot. Until then, the Snyder administration and Attorney General Bill Schuette say the state's old emergency financial manager law is in place. The old law does not give emergency financial managers as much authority. State officials have already appointed or re-appointed the emergency managers running seven cities and school districts in Michigan.

McCotter investigation

Brian Charles Watson / Wikimedia Commons

In this Saturday's Week in Review, Michigan Radio's Rina Miller speaks with Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about auto earnings, the new state model for measuring K-12 academic achievement, and the primary election coming up on Tuesday.

RM: U.S. car companies announce their profit statements this week. How are things looking, Jack?

A new group is asking the state of Michigan to pick up the cost of a special election to fill the unexpired term of former Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter.

L. Brooks Patterson
L. Brooks Patterson / Facebook.com

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson wants political parties use a lottery to winnow the number of candidates running to serve the last two months of former U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter's term.

If only one Democrat and one Republican run, an expensive Sept. 5 special primary election could be avoided.

Democrats have only one candidate, Dave Curson of Belleville. But five Republicans have filed to run: Kerry Bentivolio of Milford, Nancy Cassis of Novi and Livonia residents Steve King, Kenneth Crider and Carolyn Kavanagh.

Holding the 11th District special primary election could cost local governments in Oakland and Wayne counties $650,000.

Oakland County's Daily Tribune reported on the County Executive's statement earlier today:

“This is about fiscal responsibility... If there is only one candidate from each party running, there is no need to spend tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a special primary election.

“It’s ridiculous to spend that amount of taxpayer dollars on a special primary election for just a couple weeks in office.”

McCotter unexpectedly resigned on July 6.

Kerry Bentivolio / bentivolioforcongress.com

An expensive primary to replace Congressman Thad McCotter will go forward with five Republicans and one Democrat on the ballot. This afternoon, a state elections board certified that the candidates had submitted enough signatures to run for the remainder of McCotter’s term.  And no candidates withdrew by the 4 p.m. deadline.
    
Michigan Elections Director Chris Thomas says local election clerks have to act quickly to get out absentee ballots – especially to people in the military serving overseas. He says clerks can use e-mail to get ballots overseas more quickly.

“We have a system set up in the qualified voter file that enables clerks using our Michigan Voter Information Center to actually create an e-mail ballot in a PDF format that can be sent over. So that cuts down half the transit time," he said.
    
The estimated cost of the special primary is $650,000.
 
The chair of the 11th District Republican Committee says he tried to without success over the weekend to get four of the five GOP candidates to drop out and avoid that cost to taxpayers.

The elections board also cleared the way for people to file their objections to half a dozen questions set to go on the November ballot.

They will decide no later than September 22 whether the questions will definitely appear on the ballot. Thomas says challenges to petition drives typically include checking whether everyone who signed is a register voter.

“Challengers can check the registration status and file any other challenge that they wish and then the board will use that information in their next meeting when they convene to decide whether to certify or not to certify the petition," he said.

The proposed amendments to the state constitution deal with taxes, union rights, a new international bridge in Detroit, casinos, and alternative energy.

Gov. Rick Snyder says local governments in the 11th Congressional District should not expect the state to help cover the costs of a special primary to replace Congressman Thad McCotter.  
    

Kerry Bentivolio
Kerry Bentivolio / http://bentivolioforcongress.com

Democrat Dave Curson, and Republicans Kerry Bentivolio, Kenneth Crider, Steve King, Carolyn Kavanagh and Nancy Cassis all say they have filed enough valid signatures to run in the special election to fill the remainder of U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter's congressional seat, according to the the Detroit News.

The deadline for filing signatures was 4 p.m. today.

After McCotter abruptly resigned from his seat in Detroit’s 11th Congressional district, he left a gap between his absence and the end of his term in early January. 

In order to fill the gap, Gov. Rick Snyder's office called for a special question to appear on the November ballot, in which 11th District voters will decide on a candidate to finish out the remaining six weeks of McCotter's term.

On the same ballot, these constituents will vote again for whom they want to serve the following term beginning January 3, 2013.  The deadline for candidates to file for that election has already passed.

A primary for the special election could be held on September 5, if more than one candidate from either party file enough signatures.

The Doctor Is In

Jul 17, 2012

Four years ago, Dr. Syed Taj, then chief of medicine at Dearborn’s Oakwood Hospital, decided to run for Canton Township trustee. His friends tried to talk him out of it. He had only lived there a year, and he was a Democrat. The affluent Wayne County area is pretty Republican. Taj is also a Muslim-American whose musical voice is rich with the accents of his native India.

Most figured he didn’t have a chance. But he won overwhelmingly. Though he was the only Democrat to win a seat on the board, he got more votes than anyone else.

“Most people trust their doctor,” Taj said, chuckling. Now, Taj is running for Congress from the Eleventh District, which tends to lean Republican. He is, once again, an underdog. But he is used to that -- and his chances improved when the incumbent, Thaddeus McCotter, mysteriously failed to qualify for the ballot and suddenly resigned.

Throughout the last decade, there was always speculation that a Democrat could win the 11th district, but the party tended to run lackluster and underfunded candidates. This time, it may be even harder. Redistricting has made the district slightly more Republican.

If you need proof that our system is sometimes irrational, consider this: Westland, a mostly blue-collar Wayne County community of about 80,000 people, is short of cash, like most cities these days. But Westland is apparently going to have to spend $60,000 to hold an unexpected and virtually meaningless primary election on a Wednesday in September.

This is the first step in replacing Thaddeus McCotter, the congressman whose bizarre meltdown ended with his sudden resignation last week. Not to replace him for a full-term, but for just the few weeks remaining in his current one.

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