FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan
November 29, 2016
Snyder Picks GOP Staffer at Center of Gamrat & Courser Scandal for CoA
Snyder continues trend of setting up political allies with powerful positions
LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder has picked Brock Swartzle — a top Republican staffer for House Speaker Kevin Cotter and attorney for the Michigan House Republicans — to a seat on the Michigan’s Court of Appeals. Given all the facts surrounding the appointment, Progress Michigan is very concerned, for example, the position was supposed to be eliminated on after the retirement of the vacating judge.
Swartzle was one of the chief characters involved in the fallout from the sex scandal between former state representatives Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser. But that’s only part of the reason why Progress Michigan finds this appointment so troubling.
The appointment comes despite the fact that several Court of Appeals positions are supposed to be phased out upon a judge’s retirement, which is a law that was pushed for by Snyder when he first took office.
At the beginning of Snyder’s term in 2012, a bill was passed that would shrink the Court of Appeals from 28 to 24 seats upon a judge’s retirement to save money. The positions were supposed to be phased out upon a judge’s retirement. That process has not been happening as it should.
The out-going judge, Donald Owens, will be resigning on News Year’s Day, which also happens to be the day his term ends. In most circumstances, when a judge’s term is up, they would have two options, they would either have to retire (meaning the position would be phased out under the law passed by Snyder) or seek reelection (if the judge in question wanted to stay on the bench). But with the last-minute resignation on the day Owens’ term ends, and his resignation coming after the November 8th election, Swartzle (through appointment by Snyder) will get a two-year term on the bench without any input from the voters. Owen’s would not be able to seek reelection in this case because of age-mandated retirement. However, Snyder chose to put a political crony in the position, rather than letting the position close like it’s supposed to under the law that he signed.
The late hour of this appointment and the political nature of it should send up red flags for folks across Michigan.
“Rick Snyder obviously learned nothing from the anger expressed about political corruption in the last election. This appointment is clearly political and is a continuation of Snyder placing political cronies in major positions of power in Michigan — including Norm Saari to the Michigan Public Service Commission and Bobby Schostak to the Oakland University Board of Trustees,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “To make matters worse, this position shouldn’t even be filled based on laws that the Governor himself pushed for. This appointment is 100 percent political and about rewarding political allies and stacking the courts with Republicans.”