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Schuette won’t act

Barrow pursues remedy

By Phreddy Wischusen
The Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — The Detroit primary recount ended on Sept. 26 leaving many questions unanswered and allegations uninvestigated. Dozens of Detroiters, including nine primary candidates, spent weeks attending Wayne County Board of Canvassers meetings, observing the recount process and challenging individual ballots.

In a meeting on Sept. 17, the board determined there was probable cause to believe that nine ballots with the name Micheal Duggan (sic) printed on them could be fraudulent. Barrow and other candidates petitioning for recount – Jean Vortkamp, D. Etta Wilcoxon, Monica Lewis Patrick, Derrick Muhammad, Lucinda Darrah, Francine Adams, Regina, Ross, Danetta Simpson — asked the board to investigate the matter.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette

On Sept. 19, however, the board forwarded the matter to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy who forwarded it on to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.  Schuette’s office did not receive or acknowledge receiving the board’s letter until Oct. 23  — almost a month after the board had already certified the primary election.

An Oct. 24 letter from Richard L. Cunningham, division chief criminal division of the Michigan attorney general’s office  addressed to WCBC chair Carol Larkin, declares the board was statutorily obligated to make a full investigation and, even if they lacked the proper resources to do so, MCL implies the board “may call upon” the county sheriff or Michigan state police to assist them. Concluding, Cunningham says he is returning the envelope with the nine ballots — still sealed — to the board for further investigation.

The letter was made public after Tom Barrow obtained it and released it via Facebook.

When asked if the board planned to continue the investigation, pursuant to the AG’s recommendation, Board Chair Carol Larkin replied: “By law, the Board of Canvassers’ right to investigate ends when the recount is certified.”

Her term in office ends Oct. 31.  She will be replaced by John Knappman, a lawyer who currently works in management and budget for Wayne County.

With the board and the attorney general’s office stating they don’t have the authority to investigate,  the recount petitioners are seeking justice in court. In a press statement, the nine former and current candidates vow to appeal to Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Robert Colombo for a “declarative ruling of the county’s failure as well as a full investigation by the Michigan State Police.”  Colombo ruled against the petitioners in a previous case and has admitted to donating money to Mike Duggan’s mayoral campaign.

Additionally, in a letter dated Oct. 30, Tom Barrow vows to “immediately commence action against both you (Carol Larkin) and Krista Hartounian (vice chair WCBC) personally seeking financial and other damages caused by your gross negligence.  The end of your term will provide no protection.”

Barrow and the other petitioners also demand a refund of $10,400 for a recount and investigation they say was not performed. Each candidate paid $10 per precinct they petitioned to be recounted; $10,400 total was spent by nine candidates on recounts.

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