FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan
October 19, 2022
Contact: Sam Inglot, email@example.com
DeVos-Backed Republicans Must Answer for Chatfield’s Alleged Crimes
Lansing corruption entangled Chatfield, others with the DeVos political machine
MICHIGAN – Upon leaving the Michigan Legislature in 2020, former House Speaker Lee Chatfield made a tribute to Lansing power couple Anne and Rob Minard on the chamber floor: “The truth is, I would not be where I am without you and I would not be who I am without you.”
Indeed, Chatfield’s newly surfaced alleged criminal enterprise likely would not have been possible without the well-connected Minards and their power broker status in Lansing, as the disgraced ex-speaker curried favor with DeVos special interests and corporations like DTE and Consumers Energy.
Reporting from the Detroit News finds that Chatfield is under investigation for conducting an alleged criminal enterprise that potentially included embezzlement, bribery, campaign finance violations and distributing controlled substances. This news comes after previous reporting from the Michigan Campaign Finance network which found that political action committees connected to the Minards and Chatfield had numerous accounting inconsistencies, including up to $100,000 in money unaccounted for.
The record shows that after Chatfield rose to power, DeVos money flowed into his coffers as the Minards took care of bookkeeping. These revelations put all candidates aligned with DeVos and associated with Chatfield in an untenable position, including Republican gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon. running mate Shane Hernandez, and candidate for state representative Cam Cavitt.
“Voting has already started for the 2022 midterms, and Michiganders deserve to know how deep the connections to Lee Chatfield’s alleged criminal enterprise run for the Republican ticket this year,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “As the most powerful lawmaker in the legislature, how is it possible that Republicans in Lansing weren’t aware of Chatfield’s unethical – and potentially illegal – behavior, including the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor?”
Here’s what we know:
- Rob Minard was the executive director of DeVos-backed Great Lakes Education Project and served as statewide field manager for Dick DeVos’ gubernatorial run in 2006.
- Rob Minard and his wife, Ann, worked in Chatfield’s leadership office and at the same time ran a side hustle at Victor Strategies, a consulting firm, which Chatfield employed for polling and bookkeeping.
- The Michigan Campaign Finance Network called the $1.1 million Victor Strategies received from Republican officials to be “exorbitant,” oftentimes for services that were vaguely classified.
- Just before Chatfield left the legislature, he funneled more than $1.2 million from his own leadership PACs to another PAC connected to both himself and the Minards. At least $880,000 came from the Republican State Leadership Committee, a national organization.
- According to Aaron Chatfield, Lee’s brother, one of the Minards coordinated the ex-speaker’s lavish trips to Aspen, the Bahamas, Vegas and elsewhere.
- When he was in the state legislature, Chatfield appointed now-Republican lieutenant governor nominee Shane Hernandez to become House Appropriations Chair.
- From the time Hernandez entered office to when he left, Chatfield donated $40,600 to his campaign.
- Current state house candidate Cam Cavitt was the Peninsula Fund’s vice president and claims he was left in the dark about the organization’s finances, yet he was on its board. Nonprofit boards typically receive reports and make decisions about an organization’s finances, and if Cavitt’s assertion is correct, that falls foul of Michigan law and federal tax laws.
- The DeVos family made frequent and substantial contributions to Chatfield while he was in office. The West Michigan oligarchs hand-picked their candidate, Tudor Dixon, supplying her with campaign cash while in return she is supporting their destructive education policies that would gut $500 million from public education.
“If Michigan voters can’t trust the guy Republicans in Lansing put in charge because he used his office to engage in alleged crimes, then they sure as hell can’t trust the folks who stood by his countless transgressions,” Scott continued. “We call on the Republican ticket and the MIGOP to come clean about their relationship with the Chatfield scheme and his lavish, abusive lifestyle and for the legislature to start an immediate independent investigation.”