Criminal charges against a group of Michigan Republicans for allegedly participating in an effort to nullify the 2020 presidential election have placed a trio of local officials under intense scrutiny, preventing at least one from continuing to perform official duties, while also calling into question whether the other two will remain in office.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced charges against 16 Republicans for allegedly signing a forged certificate promising the state’s Electoral College vote to former President Donald Trump. Those charged include Grand Blanc Community Schools board member Amy Facchinello, Shelby Township Clerk Stanley Grot and Wyoming Mayor Kent Vanderwood.
Facchinello faces a possible recall campaign, Grot can no longer administer the election, and Vanderwood faces calls to recuse himself and resign.
The Free Press left a voicemail message seeking comment from the three local officials. Facchinello and Grot did not respond. A person contacted on Vanderwood’s behalf, indicating that the mayor had not received a copy of the charging document and that Nessel’s office contacted him after announcing the charges with a brief voicemail message. “We do not respond to press releases, so until we have had a chance to review the charges, we have no further comment,” read an email from Pat Liebler, head of the Liebler public relations group, according to its website.
A recall effort against Facchinello
Facchinello was elected to the Greater White Community Schools Board of Trustees in 2020. A day after Nessel announced the charges against Facchinello and others, a school district resident filed a recall petition, according to Genesee County Clerk Domonique Clemons.
The county election commission will consider the reminder language at an upcoming meeting. And if the petition is approved, there will be a short window for Facchinello to appeal, Clemons explained.
Criminal charges: Fake Trump voters charged by Michigan AG over alleged 2020 campaign platform
The petition must obtain enough signatures to present to voters, and given the timing of the petition’s filing, this could force a recall measure to the May 2024 ballot.
Grot banned from holding electoral office
Michigan Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater sent a letter to Grot on Thursday asking Grot to immediately refrain from performing all official election duties such as voter registration and issuing ballots, citing the criminal charges he faces.
“Our legal system presumes that those charged with criminal conduct are innocent until proven guilty and the criminal charges you currently face may eventually be resolved in your favor,” Brater wrote. “However, allegations that you violated Michigan’s criminal and election laws by attempting to allocate the state’s electoral votes to candidates other than those actually elected by the people of Michigan fundamentally undermine voter confidence in the integrity of the election.”
Brater ordered the deputy township clerk to perform his electoral duties until further notice or until Grot is acquitted or the charges against him are dismissed.
Call for Vanderwood’s resignation
Vanderwood was elected mayor of Wyoming in 2022. The Democratic lawmaker who represents the city in the Michigan House — state Rep. John Fitzgerald, D-Wyoming — called on Vanderwood to recuse himself from public office the same day Nessel announced the charges.
“Every Wyoming resident deserves to have faith in our local institutions and leaders. While these charges are before the courts, I don’t believe our city, or its people, are better served under the leadership of an indicted mayor,” Fitzgerald said.
Democratic state Rep. Phil Skaggs, D-East Grand Rapids, called on Vanderwood to step down. “Anyone accused of attempting to overthrow American democracy must face the consequences of the law, regardless of their political affiliation,” Skaggs said. “I firmly believe that in light of these extremely serious allegations, the right thing to do for the mayor is to resign.”
In a statement, the city acknowledged the charges against Vanderwood: “These actions did not take place in his capacity as a city official. With any charge, there is legal process that must be followed,” reads the city’s statement provided by Briana Peña, communications specialist in the city manager’s office.
Residents, meanwhile, have been asking how to launch a recall effort against Vanderwood, according to Peña. In response to these questions, the city posted on its Facebook page that any recall effort would be handled by the Kent County Clerk’s Office.
Vanderwood is serving his freshman year and is therefore not yet eligible for a recall, Kent County Deputy Clerk Rob Macomber told the Free Press in a text message. All petitions would be accepted on or after December 6, he said.
Contact Clara Hendrickson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-296-5743. Follow her on Twitter @clarajanehen.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Local Michigan Officials Charged with Alleged Election Scheme