Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger faces a new lawsuit, after being sued earlier this year by two former employees who say their firing was in retaliation for blowing the whistle on her unethical behavior.
This time Spranger is being sued for actions she took before taking the oath of office.
Diane Zontini says ten days after the election in November, she caught an associate of Spranger secretly videotaping her as Zontini was conducting private business at the Clerk's office.
Zontini says the associate flatly refused to stop the videotaping, and Spranger refused to hand over the tape.
She says the incident left her feeling violated.
"My fear was and still is that the videotape can be published and go out on the Internet," says Zontini, a retired resident of Macomb County who recently ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for Clinton Township Trustee.
Zontini says Spranger's behavior was bizarre. Spranger tried to get Zontini to sign a letter which stated that Spranger would not publish the tape, and she asked Zontini if she wanted a job in the Clerk's office.
She says Spranger also went into a lengthy description of her campaign and her unexpected victory.
Neither Spranger nor her attorney returned calls.
Barry Powers, Zontini's attorney, says he believes Spranger's actions also constitute state and federal crimes. He's asked county and federal prosecutors to investigate if charges should be brought.
Negative news has dogged Spranger since she took over as clerk. Union leaders say Macomb County Human Resources has upheld multiple grievances for harassment filed against her by union employees.
Spranger also asked the county board of commissioners to pay for an attorney so she could sue the county for not letting her fire union employees under the protection of contracts. (The board declined.)
She also tried to stop the county from moving part of her offices to a new building by hiding the moving boxes necessary for the move.
Before Spranger was elected, she was a community activist who on occasion showed up at local government meetings wearing a foil-covered suit to protest utility smart meters.