Oct 1, 2007

Threatened recall campaign begins with Oakland County area Representatives

Apparently, the threatened recall effort for some of the lawmakers voting to increase Michigan’s income tax Sunday night has begun.

An Oakland County group calling itself “Stop Hurting Michigan's Kids” announced Monday it’s starting recalls against six state Representatives who represent parts of Oakland County, including one Republican, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press. Those targeted are Reps. Paul Condino, D-Southfield, Marie Donigan, D-Royal Oak, Andy Meisner, D-Ferndale, Tim Melton, D-Ponitiac, Aldo Vagnozzi, D-Farmington Hills and Chris Ward, R-Brighton.

The group filed with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office as a Political Action Committee (PAC) on Sept. 13 by Rochester Hills resident Tom McMillin. He is a conservative Republican; a former field director for the Michigan Christian Coalition, a former Oakland County Commissioner; former Mayor of Auburn Hills; chairman of the Oakland Citizens to Protect Marriage, that helped pass of Proposal 2, which amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage and a Republican candidate for State Board of Education in 2006. A PAC allows them to solicit and spend money to influence an election.

The group may have a tough time recalling the Representatives who are term limited and cannot run again next November because the complex, time-consuming recall process.

Those Representatives term limited and in their last year in the House include Condino, the Chair of the important Judiciary Committee; Meisner, the Chair of the Commerce Committee; Ward, the Minority Floor Leader and Vagnozzi. Donigan is in her second term, and Melton, the Chair of the Education Committee, is in his first term.

Kelly Chesney, the Director of Communications for the Michigan Secretary of State, said section 168.951 of Michigan Election Law says that a recall petition cannot be filed against an elected official during the last six months of the officer's term of office. For those four term-limited Representatives, their term expires on Dec. 31 of next year, but the election is just 13 months away.

“You first have to determine how much time is left in the term,” she said. “They cannot be within six months of their term expiring.”

The recall group then has to come up with the reason for a recall, and it must meet certain criteria. The reason for a recall must be clear enough so that voters can understand the reason for the recall. Once the reason and recall language is submitted to the local county board of electors or election commission, they will determine if the language is clear and concise. In Ward’s case, where the majority of the 66th District he represents is in Livingston County and only a small piece is in Oakland County’s Milford Township, the Livingston County Elections Commission will hold the clarity hearing because that is the county Ward resides in. A public clarity hearing is held 10-20 days after the commission receives the petition where the person being recalled is allowed to address the clarity of the recall language.

Once the language is approved, the language is good for 180 days, but the actual petition drive for signatures must be within 90 days. In other words, there must be 90 days between the first and last signature.

The petition circulator must collect only those signatures of voters registered in the House District of the lawmaker being recalled, and the person collecting the signatures must also be a registered voter in that district. The petitions must contain the signatures equal to at least 25 percent for all the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in the district of the lawmaker being recalled.

Once enough signatures are collected, the petitions are sent to the Secretary of State, which has seven days to begin to verify that the petitions are in the proper form and the signatures are from registered voters in the district. The target of the recall then has the right to challenge the signatures. Within 35 days after petitions are filed with the SOS, the office must make a determination if the petition is sufficient or deficient, and if it’s sufficient it then notifies the county clerk that the a recall election is to be held on the next regular election date that is not less than 95 days after the date the petition is filed.

If the recall is successful, the seat is immediately vacant, and a special election to fill the vacancy shall be held on the next regular election date. The governor may appoint someone to fill the seat until the election is held and the successor sworn in.

It is not clear if this recall attempt is associated with Macomb County Commissioner Leon Drolet, the head of The Michigan Taxpayers Alliance (MTA), who has been threatening recalls of anyone who votes for the revenue, increases. McMillin did not return phone calls.

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