FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan
September 14, 2021
Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, firstname.lastname@example.org
James Craig’s Law Enforcement Task Force ‘Thin Blurry Line’
Responses to FOIA requests raise questions about sheriffs using public resources for Craig’s campaign activity
MICHIGAN – Following the announcement of former Detroit Police Chief James Craig’s Law Enforcement Action Team (LEAT), Progress Michigan submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to the county sheriffs and prosecutors who issued statements of support or were otherwise publicly involved, to determine if public resources are being spent on a political campaign. Several of those FOIA responses show cause for concern.
Craig’s LEAT task force is clearly linked to his gubernatorial campaign: the original press release is housed on his campaign website and directs readers to a petition at BackMIBlue.com, which redirects to Craig’s campaign WinRed fundraising page; and at Craig’s August 23rd LEAT event, Craig was surrounded by “Chief James Craig for Governor” signs.
“Craig is pulling elected officials into his campaign and the public has a right to know if our tax dollars are going to help further Craig’s political career,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “This law enforcement task force seems to be a publicity stunt at best and an illegal use of public resources at worst. If our sheriffs, prosecutors, and other elected officials are going to be involved, there need to be clear lines between their public office and their personal political activity.”
Progress Michigan has sent FOIA requests to all sheriffs and prosecutors involved in LEAT, including: Clinton County Prosecutor Tony Spagnuolo, Gladwin County Sheriff Mike Shea, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker, Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young, Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy, Luce County Sheriff John Cischke, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony M. Wickersham, Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole, and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard. At the time of this press release, not all departments have responded.
The following records show an intermingling of public resources and the sheriffs’ involvement in Craig’s political campaign:
- Macomb County Sheriff’s Office records indicate John Yob, a Republican political figure who appears to be involved in Craig’s campaign, emailed Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham’s official email account seeking Wickersham’s approval for a quote to include in Craig’s press release.
- Mason County Sheriff’s Office records show emails and text messages between Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole and Ted Goodman, the previous spokesperson for the Michigan GOP who left the MI GOP to work for Craig. Goodman invites Cole to the August 23rd event and shares photographs. Cole tells Goodman to “let me know if [Craig would] like to have lunch with the district sheriffs and talk about his LEADS [sic] initiative.”
- Livingston County Sheriff’s Office records indicate Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy used county personnel to help him access a rough draft of Craig’s LEAT announcement that John Yob had shared with Murphy via Google Drive.
- Complete responses from Macomb, Mason and Livingston counties can be found here.
The involvement of elected officials in Craig’s campaign raises many questions the public needs answered:
- In what capacity are sheriffs, prosecutors, and other elected officials participating in LEAT, given its clear campaign connections?
- What county resources have been used to facilitate participation by these sheriffs and prosecutors?
- Did county staff review the statements made by sheriffs and prosecutors regarding LEAT?
- Did those persons who attended Craig’s August 23rd LEAT event use county-issued vehicles to drive to the location?