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Rep. Inman Indicted On Extortion, Bribery Charges

May 21, 2019

Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) was indicted Wednesday on attempted extortion and bribery for allegedly offering his “no” vote on the prevailing wage citizens initiative for $30,000 in campaign contributions, according to the indictment filed in the U.S. District Court’s Western Division.

The term-limited House member proclaimed he’s innocent of the charges, which stem from text messages that appear to show him trying to coordinate campaign money for 12 other members who could vote against the measure last June.

An indictment handed down Tuesday and filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court’s Western Division alleges the Grand Traverse County lawmaker solicited contributions from the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (MRCCM) union, who opposed the initiative. His arraignment is May 23 and he faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted as charged.

“I am innocent of these charges. I have never compromised the integrity of my vote,” Inman said in a statement released around 3 p.m. Wednesday. “I have always represented my constituency honestly and legally. I intend on vigorously fighting these charges and defending my reputation.”

By 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) removed Inman, who also is accused of making a false statement to an FBI agent, from all of his subcommittees and ordered the House Business Office to take control of Inman’s office to ensure Grand Traverse County residents receive constituent services.

About 90 minutes later, Chatfield said he had asked Inman to resign, and the House member said he “is considering it.” The charging document can be found here.

The U.S. Attorney General’s office declined to comment beyond a statement the office issued Wednesday that announced the indictment.

The indictment alleges Inman solicited money through text messages between June 3, 2018, and June 5, 2018.

In a June 3 text, Inman is alleged to have sent similar texts to both a MRCCM representative and a carpenters’ lobbyist that they have “only 12 people to block it.” Inman is accused of texting:

– “You said all 12 will get $30,000 each to help there [sic] campaigns. That did not happen . . . I have heard most got $5,000, not $30,000 . . . I am not sure you can hold 12 people for the only help of $5,000.”

– “People will not go down for $5,000, not that we dont [sic] appreciate it. Please get with all the trades by Monday. I would suggest maxing out on all 12, or at least doubling what you have given them on Tuesday, asap, we never had this discussion, Larry.”

– “Its [sic] not worth losing assignments and staff for $5,000, in the end. They will give you the check back.”

– “. . . I have Breakfast event on Wed morning at Karobe, Governors room . . . hope you can make it 🙂 and see if there are checks you can get, thanks! Larry Inman.”

The indictment noted that the MRCCM donated $6,000 to Inman’s campaign committee between October 2017 and May 2018, but didn’t make additional donations after his June 3 text message.

Mike Jackson, MRCCM executive secretary-treasurer, issued a statement to media saying: “Our members deserve elected officials who vote on the merits of a bill, and how it will affect us as taxpayers and hardworking people.”

In 2017, ballot-question committee Protecting Michigan Taxpayers (PMT) circulated a petition to repeal the prevailing wage law and in April, the Board of State Canvassers (BSC) deadlocked on whether to certify the petition.

The case eventually went to the Michigan Supreme Court before it returned to the BSC who unanimously approved the ballot measure.

Inman eventually voted to repeal the law, which guaranteed union wages and benefits for workers on government-funded construction projects. The Republican-led House approved the measure in a narrow 56-53 vote and the Senate approved it 23-14.

The indictment alleges an FBI agent asked Inman if he communicated with the union or its representative before his vote and the agent said Inman “denied having any such communications and specifically denied soliciting $30,000 from Person A.”

Progress Michigan Executive Director Lonnie Scott called for Inman’s resignation and also asked Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) to “investigate and identify ‘Inman’s Dirty Dozen’ so the public knows” which lawmakers sought to sell their votes.

Voters Not Politicians Executive Director Nancy Wang and Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes each agreed in the call for Inman’s resignation, with Barnes calling the charges “incredibly disappointing and concerning.”

“Not only is Inman accused of violating the trust of his constituents, the oath of his office, and the law, but his actions, if true, show a deeply troubling pattern of Republican disdain for the working people of our state,” she said in a statement. “This is a stark reminder that elections have consequences.”

Inman, a former Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners member and retired vice president of the Huntington National Bank branch in Traverse City, was first elected to the House in 2014 and was re-elected in 2016 and 2018.

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