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Effort to recall Inman thwarted, group still calling for his resignation

Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg)
Michigan House of Representatives

Updated January 10, 2020, at 5:31 p.m.:

The recall effort against State Representative Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) is over.

The secretary of state announced Thursday night that the group didn’t have enough signatures on their petition. Hundreds were tossed out over typos and legibility concerns. 

Sandy Hardy was one of the organizers of the recall effort.

She says while their work is over, they still have a message for Rep. Inman.

“We hope that he will listen to nearly 14,000 signatures and all these volunteers and he will do the right thing and resign.”

Chris Cooke is Larry Inman’s attorney.

“We’re just very very pleased that it turned out the way it did because there was really no basis for this entire recall effort.”

The group behind the recall effort is still calling for Inman to resign. Last month Inman was found not guilty of lying to the FBI while a mistrial was declared on two other criminal charges.

He has since returned to work in the Capitol.

Updated January 10, 2020 at 9:42 a.m.: 

The people in Grand Traverse County who are trying to recall Larry Inman had 60 days to collect 12,201 signatures.

But according to a spokesperson for the Secretary of State, last night Michigan’s Bureau of Elections ruled the group needed two-hundred-eight more valid signatures than it turned in.

Inman was charged last May with lying to the FBI, soliciting a bribe and attempted extortion.

Last month the Republican representative was acquitted of lying to the FBI. And the jury couldn’t reach a verdict on the other charges resulting in a mistrial.

Updated January 7, 2020 at 3:53 p.m.:

The group behind the recall effort to remove Representative Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) from office got some breathing room on Tuesday.

The Michigan Court of Appeals found that the group has until Wednesday afternoon to resubmit signatures on its petition against the Traverse City lawmaker.

The court found that the previous debate about typos in the petition language changed the time frame for the debate and gave the group an extra day to resubmit signatures.

Michael Naughton, an attorney representing the recall effort, says they’re confident the recall will continue.

“We’re not going to wait until the last minute, we’ve already submitted over the amount that would be required to have the recall petition moving forward,” Naughton said.

Inman’s attorney Chris Cooke says the petition should have never been approved, saying his client was — and is — innocent of the charges against him.

“It’s just amazing to me how you can just extend statutory deadlines on the request of a representative party who should be well aware of the rules,” Cooke said.

If the signatures and petition are approved, the Secretary of State will formally announce a recall primary and election to take place later this year.

Updated Dec. 2, 2019 at 4:26 p.m.:

A group seeking to recall a state lawmaker is asking the Michigan Court of Appeals to put the question on the ballot. The campaign says typos on petition forms are not a good enough reason to block voters from deciding whether state Representative Larry Inman should be removed.

The campaign wants the court to reverse a decision by the state elections director to reject the petitions.

Sondra Hardy is a leader of the recall drive. She says the decision is not fair to the people who signed petitions.

“They should not silence the voices of the nearly 14,000 voters, so we’re saying that it was a bad decision based on a technicality,” she said.

Hardy says Grand Traverse County voters are essentially going without representation while Inman battles federal charges that he tried to trade his vote for campaign donations. Inman also missed votes during a period when he says he was in treatment for opioid addiction.

“We were not represented by Inman for about 100 votes between May and September, and people in the county felt very strongly about it,” Hardy said.

Inman is accused of soliciting a bribe, extortion, and lying to the FBI.

Original post, Nov. 29, 2019, 4:51 p.m.:

The state Bureau of Elections has tossed out petitions and thousands of signatures seeking a recall election against state Representative Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg). The decision is based on two typos on the petition form.

The elections bureau says the language on the petition does not exactly match the language that was approved by a state board – and that the law says close is not good enough. The most significant difference is the omission of one word from the federal charges filed against Inman.

The chair of the recall campaign says the decision is “disappointing” and the group is assessing its options. Larry Inman is about to go on trial on charges of bribery, extortion and lying to federal investigators.

The state elections director says the recall campaign can challenge the decision in court, but the challenge must be wrapped up by January 10. That’s the deadline for finalizing the ballot prior to the March 10 election.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a general assignment reporter. Before joining IPR, Max worked as a news director and reporter at Michigan State University's student radio station WDBM. In 2018, he reported on a Title IX dispute with MSU in his story "Prompt, Thorough and Impartial." His work has also been heard on Michigan Radio and WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing.
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