Prosecutor: No charges in Schmidt switch scandal

7:51 AM, Jul 18, 2012   |    comments
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Video: WZZM 13 interview with State Rep. Roy Schmidt, 7/17/2012

  • State Rep. Roy Schmidt, 76th District (R-Grand Rapids)
  • Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall)

UPDATE AT 6:15 P.M. (WZZM) -- State Rep. Roy Schmidt says he made a poor political decision to offer money to his son's friend to run against him as a Democrat, but the lawmaker does not have any intention of resigning or dropping his re-election campaign.

Rep. Schmidt spoke to WZZM 13's Phil Dawson at the Miller Johnson lawfirm, which represents the 76th District Republican.

"I feel horrible and people have every right to be mad at me," says Schmidt.

Schmidt admits his role in orchestating his switch from the Democrats to the Republicans, and the effort to get nutrition store manager Matt Mojzak, 22, to file as the Democratic candidate against him.

"It comes back to Roy Schmidt," he says.  "I made the mistake and it can surely be laid to the speaker, but at the end of the day I want it very clear Roy Schmidt made a dumb mistake and I'm goign to do my best to make amends to the public."

We will have the entire interview posted shortly online.

House Speaker Jase Bolger Tuesday also issued a statement on his role in the effort to get Schmidt to switch parties and to line up a Democrat to run in the 76th District race:

"I've said all along that all laws should be followed. As the Kent County Prosecutor determined, nothing illegal took place. Political fights can be ugly but we should all seek to focus on people, not politics. Nothing about Roy Schmidt switching parties was illegal. Roy Schmidt switched out of motivation to work for the people of Grand Rapids. But some of the actions surrounding the recruitment of another candidate were politically motivated. I encouraged a Democrat to be recruited to run, but today even I am still learning about all of the actions that took place surrounding that recruitment. Roy Schmidt told me he wanted to switch parties because he was frustrated dealing with partisan politics instead of finding solutions for Michigan's people. Political gamesmanship by anyone is a mistake and the focus should be on people instead of politics."

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- The Kent County Prosecutor says a scheme by State Rep. Roy Schmidt and House Speaker Jase Bolger to have Schmidt switch parties and pay someone to run against him as a Democrat, was "clearly designed to undermine the election and perpetrate a 'fraud' on the electorate," but the prosecutor is not bringing any charges in the case.

Prosecutor William Forsyth issued his opinion in the case centered around Rep. Schmidt's filing to run for re-election as a Republican, switching from the Democratic Party.

Click here to read the full report

Forsyth found that Rep. Schmidt and Speaker Bolger worked together to orchestrate the party switch, and to have Schmidt find someone to run against him as a Democratic candidate.

Forsyth's opinion states that Rep. Schmidt's son, Ryan, recruited his friend, 22-year-old Matt Mojzak to run as the Democratic candidate for the 76th House district.  Mojzak was apparently offered at least $450 dollars to file as a candidate.

Rep. Schmidt's switch and the filing of Mojzak's affidavit of candidacy happened in the final minutes before May 15 deadline for candidates.  The papers were filed by Phil Browne, an aide to House Speaker Bolger.

Mojzak withdrew his candidacy on May 17, two days after the deadline.  Forsyth says Rep. Schmidt tried to convince Mojzak to stay in the race, even telling Ryan Schmidt to increase the offer to Mojzak to $1000.

According to the prosecutor, the "scheme" by Rep. Schmidt and the House Speaker was legal.  Forsyth points out that that while "it would be illegal to pay a boxer to take a 'dive' or a basketball player to 'point-shave,' it is not currently a crime in Michigan to recruit someone to run for public office, place them on the ballot at the 'eleventh hour' and essentially pay them to make no effort to win."

Forsyth says Mojzak is the only person who could face charges for filing an inaccurate affidavit of identity.  On the notarized affidavit, Mojzak claimed to have been a resident in the district for 22 years.  In fact, Mojzak had lived outside of the district prior to the filing.  But Forsyth also says "while Mr. Mojzak ill-advisedly agreed to participate in this misadventure, it is clear he was duped into doing so and is the least culpable of anyone in this fiasco."

Forsyth concludes his opinion with a call to the Michigan Legislature to address the situation.

"As a Republican elected official, I am embarrassed and offended by what transpired," Forsyth writes. 

The prosecutor calls for lawmakers to at least put a time limit on whan a candidate may switch parties prior to a candidate filing deadline.

Gisgie Dávila Gendreau, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, says the secretary has not received any information from Prosecutor Forsyth, but when she does the department will review the findings and proceed from there.

WZZM 13 News contacted Matt Mojzak at the GNC nutrition store where he works.  Mojzak says he had no comment and referred future inquiries to his lawyer.

WZZM 13 News has also contacted Speaker Bolger's office for comment.  Aides have not yet returned our calls.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer said Tuesday:"It's clear...Speaker Bolger has been lying to the public since this scandal began...Given the fact that that the people of Michigan can no longer rely on anything that comes out of his mouth, Speaker Bolger should step down immediately from leadership in the House." "WZZM 13 News has a crew on this story.  We will have developments online and on WZZM 13 News at 5:30 & 6 :00 p.m.

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