It’s bad enough we’re under the national spotlight for epic fails in politics these days, be it a race-baiting spending ad, a stolen Secret Service VP U-Haul, or everything Thad McCotter.
It’s just another thing when I honestly forgot about the MI-11 special election today.
I am happy that I’m not voting in this strange hybrid district, but for the small group of constituents that were shuffled by MIGOP gerrymandering (even if it was what you wanted), it is a moment when you might ask yourself, “What was the point of all of this nonsense?”
This special election erases the mistakes of Thad McCotter, whether by his hand or simply his fault due to his position as the candidate in this scandal. I had hoped he stayed upright, and strong in the face of withering accusations. Even I partook in the melee, because I wanted answers to something so blatant and ridiculous, I couldn’t imagine Rep. McCotter or his aides actually doing this. But at the first sign of a rickety public image (screenplays and more), he seemed to fold.
He bailed from the 11th.
He bailed because there was a political strategy in resignation. Perhaps he resigned because the party demanded he do it to open the door for a write-in. Maybe Thad did it to spite the party that gave him up a little “too quickly”. Either way, the aftermath of the petitions and abrupt resignation served to blunt the eventual MIGOP nominee, Kerry Bentivolio. In this special election, there will be nothing to gain except a weeks-long vacation to Washington, D.C. Bring the kids, I say.
And while you vote, think about a few things that led to this. Also think about the gamut of political parties trying dirty tricks that only end up hurting voters.
1. Professional Politicos Do Not Do This. What sort of idiot would commit open fraud, the kind that could be easily traced back to them in the McCotter case? We’re not talking greenhorn politicos, like some college students who just decided to bring down the house. The accused are salaried pros serving in a public office, where every single detail is often mulled over in the presentation of the narrative, and the inner sanctum of political theater. These advisors are not just sharp and well-informed, but rather skilled at the dark forces. If reports are true, that forgery could have been committed as far back as 2006, we should address why the State of Michigan “finally” found the discrepancies. Seems odd, doesn’t it? If this was such an obvious hack-job, why didn’t we see it sooner? Who was in charge back when they first started “faking” petitions?
2. Fake TEA moment. Let’s not forget there is a history of sacrifices for political gambits. From Fake TEA back in summer 2010, we remember Mark Steffek suddenly throw down +$100,000 for a petition drive across the state to introduce a “TEA” party that had no actual “TEA” candidates on the ballot, just some names and a couple Democrats who crafted notarizations. In the end, we got 2 no-contest pleas, and zero information from what exactly happened those weeks, who the money came from, and why the Fake TEA party never filed a single financial document to shed light on their funding. As you can read for yourself, someone lawyered up and found out that if you dissolve your committee, you don’t have to answer campaign finance questions.
3. The Jase Bolger/Roy Schmidt moment. The investigations into hiring a shill to fake as a candidate compound may bring the MIGOP more headaches. Unlike TEA, where all of the conspirators seemed to have successfully clammed up, the actual fake candidate admitted his involvement and turned over quite a treasure trove of evidence. It makes me wonder why the MIGOP did not pursue Fake TEA as doggedly as Dems chased Mojzak? Perhaps because the MIGOP wanted to pull the same ruse in retaliation? It’s not rocket science here, is it?
4. McCotter’s Resignation. Why did he resign so fast? It wasn’t a monumental unforced error to have staffers who lied for you even without your authorization. In fact, I felt there was still an out for McCotter had he stuck to the district and served his people. But instead, he bailed, and left everyone stuck with an expensive and useless election. Was there something else from the past that should not have been dredged up? It left properly-petitioned candidate, Kerry Bentivolio, in a poor position of being unwanted and unloved, and an enemy of his own party for doing the right thing. The decision of McCotter to resign was truly political. If you look at how Schmidt/Bolger put together a candidate to spoil a Dem nomination, then look at how the MIGOP then purposely tanked Bentivolio to try and replace him, you can tell the same people are whispering in the right ears again, and nothing will change until someone stands up from within the party.
5. No Contest Pleas. The simple explanation of a no-contest plea is to save time for the court, pay reduced or negotiated penance (mostly suspended), and the public is left with just a conviction and no actual evidence, timelines, or reasoning why these actions were committed. No matter the political party, there is no justice for those who want to know what happened in all of these cases. A no-contest plea protects the crime in a sense. I could simply say I was speeding, but people may never know I pled no-contest to doing 50 in a school zone. That’s how nolo contendre works.
When the dust clears, I expect a plea deal, and a broom with a rug to sweep dirt under it. We’ll never get to see how veteran political professionals, crafty and salty warriors of the ballot…committed the worst petition hack-job ever, and somehow got caught after already (allegedly) doing it once before. And just like Fake TEA, we’ll never find out why a $100,000 petition drive can be funded, a fake party created, and suddenly left free from investigation due to a legal loophole that was already planned for in advance.
So if you’re “unlucky” enough to be a voter in the former MI-11, and actually are going to vote in this mess of a special election, just remember: It’s not really about state laws and state constitutions. It’s not about federal laws or our Constitution, no matter how hard you try to justify it with USCs and MSLs.
It’s about two parties who continuously commit crimes against our very election system, but never have to pay a price. Make Fake TEA, hire a shill for an election, or fake petitions. There are no consequences. And when a special election is held, the same two parties get to field candidates and still get preferential placement on the ballot.
So vote tomorrow if you’re in the former MI-11. Just remember why you’re having to do it.