Traverse City Record-Eagle

Meijer-Acme Township Dispute

January 6, 2010

Ruling could stall Meijer investigation

U.S. Supreme Court will make election decision

TRAVERSE CITY -- Continued legal delays could cripple an investigation into Meijer Inc.'s campaign law violations in Acme Township.

The U.S. Supreme Court could rule this month on the legality of Michigan's ban on corporate funding of elections. In Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, the court will consider overruling its 1990 decision that said states have a compelling interest in preventing corporations from deploying "immense aggregations of wealth to influence unfairly the outcomes of elections."

If the court strikes down the state ban, it would eliminate a local prosecutor's pursuit of felony charges against Meijer officials for allegedly authorizing corporate expenditures in a 2007 recall election.

Authorities would not be able to use investigative subpoenas to procure witness testimony if they're not able to pursue a felony case, Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Alan Schneider said.

Schneider filed subpoenas that seek correspondence and testimony about conversations between Meijer officials, their former attorneys at Dickinson Wright PLLC and a Grand Rapids public relations firm hired to influence the election.

"They're just stretching this out as long as they can, waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court decision, wishing it wipes out the felony charges," Schneider said of Meijer.

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