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Recall for political reasons not appropriate

As we were going to press, we became aware of a statewide effort to recall five state Democratic House members, and one Republican House representative, not because of malfeasance or misfeasance, but because a few members of the public didn't like how these elected officials had voted on recent gun bills and hate laws.

Those being targeted by recall petitions filed recently are Democrat representatives Sharon MacDonell of Troy, who also represents parts of Birmingham and Bloomfield Township; Jaime Churches of Wyandotte; Betsy Coffia of Traverse City; Jennifer Conlin of Ann Arbor; and Reggie Miller of Van Buren Township. According to papers submitted to the Secretary of State's office, recall papers were also submitted targeting Republican Cam Cavitt of Cheboygan.

Press reports say the language and timing of all these recall petitions would suggest a concerted effort by the same group which we are told is being spearheaded by Marian Sheridan of West Bloomfield, the current Grassroots Vice Chairperson for the state Republican Party who was at one time on the executive board of the Oakland County party, leader of the Lakes Area Tea Party and one of the plaintiffs in one of the many failed federal lawsuits to overturn the Biden election. Lest we forget, she is also one of the group of 16 liars/election deniers just indicted by the Michigan Attorney General for a string of violations of state and federal election law involving bogus claims that they were the official electors for the state in the 2020 presidential election.

The reason for the recall petition efforts? According to reports, in the cases of MacDonell and Coffia, it is due to their votes in favor of House Bill 4145, to permit “extreme risk protection orders” where a judge can remove a gun from someone who is perceived as a danger to themselves and others – also known as a “red flag law.” The bill passed the state House, 56-51, but has not come before the state Senate as a parallel Senate bill became law. Churches, Miller and Conlin have recalls filed against them for supporting House Bill 4474, a bill to enhance state laws and penalties related to hate crimes, hate speech and intimidation. The bill passed the House, 59-50, and is pending in the Senate.

Let's be clear. Each of these legislators is being singled out for recall for doing the jobs they were elected to do – representing the majority views of those in their district. In most cases, the lawmakers' views on these issues were likely known by those who voted them into office.

Disagreement over how a lawmaker votes on an issue is certainly fair game come the next election but using the recall option is not the appropriate avenue. Period.

Laws governing recalls in Michigan are very clear – and have been tightened over the years due to unprincipled attempts to recall elected officials. Most recently, changes to recall law were made under former Gov. Rick Snyder in 2012. For decades now, every time a recall is launched for purely political reasons, lawmakers adopt tighter restrictions, making it more difficult to recall an official when it is truly necessary.

Recalls are for criminal action, malfeasance in office or other wrongdoing. Examples are former Rep. Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell), who was expelled for having an affair with former Rep. Todd Courser (R-Lapeer), who resigned. Or, if the illegal lobbying and affair with his sister-in-law by former House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Cheboygan) had come to light while he was still in office, Chatfield could have been a proper target for recall.

What's happening here is a lose-lose situation. Disgruntled voters with an agenda should not intimidate elected officials, who are elected to represent a district. And when they do, the recall laws get tightened, making a legitimate recall attempt harder in the future.


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