TRAVERSE CITY — A House resolution urges Republican state Rep. Larry Inman to resign following claims he put his vote up for sale.
Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, a Republican, brought the resolution Tuesday, calling for the embattled Inman to step down, three weeks after a federal grand jury indicted him on three felony charges, including attempted extortion, bribery and lying to an FBI agent.
“Rep. Inman's conduct has brought a dark cloud on the people's House and left the residents of Grand Traverse County without proper representation,” Chatfield said, in an emailed statement. “It is best for Rep. Inman, for the House, for the people of Grand Traverse County, and for the entire state that he step down immediately."
Inman could face further disciplinary action if he chooses not to step down — Assistant Clerk of the State House Rich Brown said legislators could conduct their own investigation and bring a motion to discharge Inman and Governor Gretchen Whitmer could call for a special election if Inman chose to resign.
He appeared for an arraignment hearing in a U.S. District Courtroom in Grand Rapids on the charges May 28. He entered “not guilty” pleas to all charges and was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond.
Christopher Cooke, Inman's attorney, was surprised to see the resolution and hear the continued calls for Inman’s resignation all before he’s had his chance to defend himself.
Inman plans to continue his term as state representative, Cooke said. He called for the the House to wait for Inman’s case to conclude in court before making any more disciplinary moves.
“I don’t think it hurts anybody to let Larry defend himself in the court of law, then make whatever decisions you want to make,” Cooke said.
Investigators say text messages show Inman trying to sell his vote in 2018’s repeal of the state’s prevailing wage to Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights officials, according to court documents.
Repealing the legislation, which sets wage and benefit rates paid out to construction workers on state projects, was a move opposed publicly by union members.
“We only have 12, people to block it. You said all 12 will get $30,000 each to help there campaigns. That did not happen,” Inman wrote in an early June text message sent to an unidentified union representative, according to court records. “We will get a ton of pressure on this vote.
“I have heard most got $5,000, not $30,000. Its not worth losing assignments and staff for $5,000, in the end.”
A majority of the House, including Inman, voted to approve the repeal 56-53.
Investigators accused Inman of sending another text message on the same day to a Lansing lobbyist, arguing that $5,000 was not worth his vote.
U.S. attorneys claim Inman additionally sent text messages to members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers on June 1, asking for more campaign contributions, referencing the prevailing wage vote, according to court records.
Inman denied the communications with union officials and specifically denied asking for $30,000 during an FBI interview Aug. 1, according to records. Federal attorneys will share FBI interview summaries from August and December 2018, and summaries from two FBI phone calls from Oct. 16 and 17, records show.
Data collected from Inman’s cellphone, a recorded phone call between Inman and “Person A” on June 19, bank records, evidence seized during searches of Inman’s home and office and union records will also be shared in court, according to records.
Cooke said Inman is innocent, arguing the text messages lack needed context, which he plans to bring to court.
The claims concern the Grand Traverse County Republican Party Chairman John Roth, who supports the idea of Chatfield's resolution.
“The allegation of selling your vote is not one that we want our representative being accused of,” Roth said.
State Rep. Triston Cole said c hoosing not to resign hurts Inman's constituents.
“I believe the best thing he can do is resign and defend himself in court,” Cole said. "I hope the best for him, but right now, his ability to continue on as state representative has been compromised,” he said.
The move follows the pulling of Inman’s committee assignments and voting him out of the House Republican caucus.
Officials from Chatfield’s office reminded constituents that House Business Office officials continue manning Inman’s office to assure citizens get the help they need and have any questions or concerns addressed.
Inman is scheduled to appear for a final pretrial hearing July 19 in federal court, with an Aug. 6 trial date, if necessary.
See www.Record-Eagle.com for updates.