BELLAIRE — Costs are rising for Antrim County officials, who continue to defend against an ongoing election-related lawsuit and respond to security tasks, said County Clerk Sheryl Guy.
“Since the election, we’ve probably spent $30,000 on legal fees and overtime for deputies,” Guy said Tuesday. “And we’re not done yet.”
A Central Lake Township man, Bill Bailey, filed a lawsuit against the county Nov. 23, arguing his vote was “diluted,” and his constitutional rights violated.
Bailey also accuses Antrim County of using what he claims were intentionally compromised Dominion voting equipment, that deliberately “switched” votes from Republican to Democratic candidates during the 2020 election.
Such claims have been repeatedly debunked by Dominion CEO John Poulos, and by national, state and county election officials.
Dominion, in response to claims made about its equipment and software, filed $1.3 billion defamation lawsuits against Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, attorneys on former President Donald Trump’s election-challenging legal team, and sent a cease and desist letter to Bailey’s attorney, records show.
In November, Guy acknowledged her office — not Dominion — was responsible for an incomplete software update that mistakenly assigned about 2,500 votes cast for then-President Donald Trump, to then-Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden.
Guy, a Republican who has worked for the county for 41 years and has served as clerk since 2013, said the error was quickly corrected.
The certified vote tally showed county residents voted overwhelmingly Republican, with 9,748 votes cast for Trump, to 5,960 votes cast for Biden.
Guy said Tuesday that legal bills from attorney Haider Kazim, a specialist in municipal law with Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, PLC, for work defending against Bailey’s lawsuit had so far totaled $26,412.
Those fees will not be covered by insurance, said Jeremy Scott, the county’s deputy administrator, because Bailey is not asking for monetary damages.
The costs, Scott said, will be borne by county taxpayers.
“We’ve already received our denial letter,” Guy said, of inquiries made by county officials to a Livonia-based self-insurance pool, Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority.
The county’s 2021 budget was approved in October, Guy said, funds to pay future legal bills will come from the General Fund, and likely will be addressed at future Board of Commission meetings via budget amendments.
The county also shouldered overtime costs related to the lawsuit for several sheriff’s deputies, said Guy, who does the county’s payroll.
Those range between $4,000 and $5,000, she said.
Deputies were assigned to accompany Guy to and from work for several days in December, after she received threatening phone calls.
Officers also monitored a court-ordered forensic examination of the county’s voting equipment that took place at the county building in early December; for door duty during a state Bureau of Elections hand recount of ballots cast in the presidential election that took place in the Kearney Township Hall on Dec. 17; and to ensure a no one entered the county building during virtual county meetings, Guy said.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson successfully filed a motion in 13th Circuit Court to intervene in the case, and is now a named defendant.
Bailey’s attorney, Matthew DePerno of Portage, is in the process of seeking discovery from the state. Both he and legal staff with Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office, who represent the state in the suit, have released their witness lists.
Kazim, who did not return a call seeking comment, previously said it is unclear what Bailey is seeking, outside the relief sought in his original complaint.
In the event the parties do not reach a settlement, a two-day non-jury trial is scheduled for June 8 in 13th Circuit Court.