Since the Kent County prosecutor released a damning report last month about state Rep. Roy Schmidt‘s foiled attempt to rig his own re-election with a fake opponent, more details of the scheme have trickled out of the state police investigation files.
At the heart of the investigation are text messages between Schmidt and House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, who advised Schmidt to recruit a fake Democratic opponent so he could breeze to re-election as a Republican. The text messages revealed how Schmidt and Bolger orchestrated the party switch via text messages and in secret meetings at Bolger’s Marshall home, though the Kent County prosecutor concluded no crime was committed.
Schmidt offered to pay $450 to Matthew Mojzak, a 22-year-old friend of his son, to be his stand-in Democratic opponent, thus preventing Grand Rapids Democrats from running a legitimate candidate, according to Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth‘s July 17 report. Mojzak withdrew a few days after the filing deadline after news organizations raised questions about legal residency, despite an offer by Schmidt to be paid $1,000 to stay in the race, according to Forsyth’s report.
Progress Michigan, a Democrat-leaning advocacy organization, recently obtained portions of the Michigan State Police investigation file under a Freedom of Information Act request. The trove of records included text messages police obtained under a warrant that Schmidt received from state Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons after news of Schmidt’s party-switch broke.
In text messages, Lyons urged Schmidt not to read news accounts of his party-switch and relayed a message from Bolger that Mojzak should not speak to reporters or Democrats, according to text messages obtained by Progress Michigan and provided to The Detroit News.
“The Speaker is asking that you not attend Committees for a couple of days,” Lyons told Schmidt. “He wants you to lay low, practically sequestered.”
Lyons, R-Alto, also offered to have her husband, Brad, a Kent County corrections officer, call in sick and stop by Schmidt’s Grand Rapids home to provide security. In a later text message, Lyons told Schmidt her husband was arranging to have a Grand Rapids Police Department patrol car pass by his home on Van Ess “a few times” that night.
A Grand Rapids police spokesman said Monday the department had no record of ever visiting Schmidt’s home or sending a patrol car to monitor his residence on May 15.
In an interview Monday, Lyons said she was concerned about her friend Schmidt’s safety, knowing he had angered Democratic Party loyalists by his last-minute defection.
“I knew there would be a lot of people angry, especially since he singled out (Michigan Democratic Party chairman) Mark Brewer,” Lyons told The Detroit News. “I just wanted to make sure nobody vandalized his place or caused him any harm.”
As for Schmidt’s party-switch, Lyons emphasized she had no idea it was in the works and doesn’t condone Schmidt and Bolger’s actions.
“I believe it was wrong and I know Roy and the speaker also know it was wrong,” Lyons said. “Our caucus members know that he screwed up and that they made a mistake. And he and the speaker have acknowledged that mistake.”
Contact Chad Livengood at (517) 371-3660 or email@example.com.