House Speaker Asks MI Rep. To Resign After Charges Filed

May 15, 2019

UPDATED Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.: The leader of the Michigan House has asked a lawmaker to resign from office after he was charged with seeking campaign contributions in exchange for opposition to anti-union legislation.

Republican Speaker Lee Chatfield said Tuesday that his request to Rep. Larry Inman "is under consideration." Chatfield did not say if he would pursue an expulsion if the Traverse City-area Republicans refuses to resign. Inman says he's innocent.

A federal grand jury indicted Inman on three charges: attempted extortion, soliciting a bribe and lying to the FBI. The allegations are related to a vote to repeal a wage law on public construction projects.

Inman voted to repeal the wage law. Prosecutors say he had pledged to vote against the repeal in exchange for campaign cash. The carpenters union didn't respond.

UPDATED Wednesday at 1:00 p.m.: A Michigan lawmaker has been charged with seeking a bribe from a labor union in exchange for favorable votes on a wage issue last summer.

Republican Rep. Larry Inman was indicted Tuesday on charges of attempted extortion, soliciting a bribe and lying to the FBI. The retired banker is serving his third term in the House after decades as a local elected official in the Traverse City area.

Outside politics, his interests include finding the wreckage of famous aviator Amelia Earhart's plane .

The indictment by a federal grand jury reveals text messages sent by Inman to two people affiliated with the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, a group that had supported him. He urged them to round up campaign contributions from other unions to win the votes of lawmakers who were under pressure from Republican leaders to repeal a wage law.

"I am not sure you can hold 12 people for the only help of $5,000. ... People will not go down for $5,000, not that we dont appreciate it," Inman wrote, according to the indictment.

In both messages, he said: "We never had this discussion."

Prosecutors said the union didn't respond to Inman as requested. Inman subsequently voted with the majority to repeal a decades-old law that guaranteed higher wages for workers on government construction projects.

"Our members deserve elected officials who vote on the merits of a bill and how it will affect us as taxpayers and hard-working people. We're glad that Larry Inman is being brought to justice," said Mike Jackson, executive secretary-treasurer of the carpenters union.

Inman last fall defeated a Democratic challenger by less than 1 percentage point, or 349 votes out of 40,127 cast.

In a written statement, Inman said: "I am innocent of these charges.  I have never compromised the integrity of my vote.  I have always represented my constituency honestly and legally.  I intend on vigorously fighting these charges and defending my reputation."