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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Genesee County Republican Party chair admits he made call threatening to kill Michigan clerk's dog, pleads guilty

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Steve Carmody
“I was trying to help a friend who was running for public office against Ms. Kelly,” Matt Smith told the judge, “My actions were totally inappropriate and I sincerely apologize for this call...this late night disturbing the peace.”

The Genesee County Republican Party chairman has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from a late night phone call last year to an Upper Peninsula county clerk.

Houghton County Clerk Jennifer Kelly claims Matt Smith threatened to kill her dogs during the call. Smith did not identify himself on the call. But an investigation by the Houghton County Sheriff’s Department led detectives to Smith.

Smith has long insisted the criminal investigation against him was “a political hit piece” organized by Genesee County Democrats.

But Monday, Smith admitted to a judge he made the call. He said the 1 a.m. call on March 6, 2020 was intended to “annoy” the clerk.

“I was trying to help a friend who was running for public office against Ms. Kelly,” Smith told the judge, “My actions were totally inappropriate and I sincerely apologize for this call... this late night disturbing the peace.”

Smith now faces sentencing on a misdemeanor charge January 11, 2022.

Smith is also facing a recall petition. His critics are trying to collect enough signatures to call for a recall election to oust Smith from his seat on the Davison Community Schools Board of Education.