A Lansing judge has been appointed to conduct a one-person grand jury investigation into the election fraud scandal involving Republicans Rep. Roy Schmidt from Grand Rapids and Speaker of the House Jase Bolger.
Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina will do the probe at the request of Democrats who filed the court paperwork last week.
At the same time, a group of constituents stopped by Brann's Steakhouse in Grand Rapids Tuesday to chat with Rep. Roy Schmidt.
The coffee talk event, scheduled from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., was the first planned public event for the state lawmaker since he switched parties from Democrat to Republican and a scandal involving election fraud surfaced.
"I do these all year, I haven't done one in three to four months," said Rep. Roy Schmidt.
The Republican lawmaker said he was expecting a bigger crowd and even moved the location to accomodate more people. Altogether, 14 constituents showed up for the morning event.
"What they usually like to talk about is things that are bothering them," said Schmidt.
That was the case with Pam Schwallier, a Realtor at Great Lakes Signature Properties, located in Grand Rapids.
She came to ask Rep. Schmidt about what can be done in Lansing to help make the loan process more efficient.
"I came out because we are experiencing a real boom in real estate after the drought, I'm becoming very discouraged between the time we are writing an offer and the time it takes to get it to close," explained Schwallier, who is making her rounds to all politicians.
Schmidt sat at a table and talked with each visitor one on one. He told FOX 17 he's been busy getting back out in the community lately.
"I've been talking to so many people, it only gets reported a lot of times about the negative, but I've been to many events and activities. So it's been business as usual, but let's not act like it's been perfect," said Schmidt, referencing the scandal.
Back in May, a scathing report released by Republican Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth revealed that Rep. Shmidt and Speaker of the House Jase Bolger were involved in a scheme to get Schmidt re-elected. The investigation, conducted by Michigan State Police, showed Schmidt and Bolger cooked up a bogus candidate to run against him when he abruptly switched from Democrat to Republican before the May 15 candidate filing deadline. The young unknown Democrat was recruited through a family friend and even offered money to run in the race, revealed through text messages.
The prosecutor found no laws were broken, but said that the scheme perpetrated election fraud. Something some voters have not forgotten.
Keith Allard, a longtime constituent, who showed up at the breakfast chat in Grand Rapids is fed up with Schmidt.
"The past months he (Schmidt) doesn't have a staff, he isn't picking up the phone, he's just letting his voicemail fill up," said Allard.
"I want to know during that three month period when he was hiding how did he earn that money," he said.
Allard says the whole thing has prompted him to run as an independent candidate with a focus on part-time legislature to save taxpayer dollars.
"I'm not running against Roy Schmidt personally, I'm running against this whole culture where representatives would throw their own mother under the bus to get re-elected. That needs to end," he said.
Despite the scandal, Schmidt still won the primary, but has had to do damage control and apologize to try and win back the public's trust.
Meanwhile, Democrats in Lansing aren't giving up and hope the one-person grand jury will uncover more about the election fraud.
"I specifically think with Prosecutor Forsyth he surely let me have it, rightfully so, he did a thorough investigation, criminally and campaign violations. Now to go to Ingham County in Lansing to try and get a one-man grand jury would be a huge waste of taxpayers dollars," said Schmidt, who said a lot of people have accepted his apologies.
Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer released the following statement in response to the Ingham County Circuit Court empaneling a one-person grand jury to further investigate the election fraud case surrounding Speaker of the House Jase Bolger and State Representative Roy Schmidt today.
"Whie it is a sad day in our state's history that this step would have to be taken, I am thankful that the court's decision will result in a full, fair and impartial investigation into this matter," said Whitmer.