Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Politics Come First for Ruth Johnson and Bill Schuette

by Gretchen Whitmer/Daily Kos

Here in Michigan, the offices of Attorney General and Secretary of State carry a significant responsibility.  Even more so than our other elected officials, we expect them to be fair, to be honest, and most importantly, to be impartial.  They perform some of the most significant functions of our government and must do so with the integrity that gives all of Michigan’s residents the confidence that they are standing up for what’s right.
Unfortunately, our current Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson have not only failed to live up to that ideal, but they have led the way in putting their political ideology ahead of doing the job they were elected to do.
It’s been well documented the lengths to which Ruth Johnson has gone to defy the law in order to achieve a political victory for her party.  Her insistence upon putting an unnecessary citizenship checkbox on the August election ballots, despite the fact that the Governor had vetoed the legislation to authorize her to do so, showed her priorities lie more with the far-right special interest groups that had been pushing for that legislation than they do with ensuring an equal and fair opportunity for every qualified voter to cast their ballot.
Yet even today, after lawsuits have been filed against her over her actions, she maintains that she will continue to insist upon the checkboxes for the November elections despite every election expert telling her it not only won’t help fight the non-existent election fraud she maintains she is battling, but it will only serve to disenfranchise legitimate and qualified voters.
The Traverse City Record-Eagle weighed in this morning and called Secretary Johnson’s move, “politics in its most unpure form,” adding that she is following a script being repeated by Republicans across the country: “make an inflated claim, do a little fear mongering, and, most importantly, change the subject.”
The Attorney General has been no better.  He has consistently used his position over the past 18 months as a pulpit to advance the Republican agenda.  From encouraging legislators to defy the U.S. Supreme Court and stall the implementation of the Affordable Care Act to filing lawsuits to stop women from gaining access to affordable contraception, he has acted far more like a party boss than he has our state’s top legal officer.
Political columnist Tim Skubick wrote over the weekend that Mr. Schuette’s blatant politicization of issues even has Governor Snyder upset, with the administration telling the Attorney General that, “You should be representing us not picking a fight.”
Most recently, Mr. Schuette steadfastly refused to investigate Republican Speaker of the House Jase Bolger and State Representative Roy Schmidt’s election fraud scandal, saying that he wasn’t going to get involved.  Fortunately, a grand jury is now picking up where he failed us and is ensuring that the case gets the thorough investigation it has deserved from day one.
We’ve elected both Republican and Democratic officials to the Attorney General and Secretary of State’s offices over the years, but there’s always been a trust that no matter what their political background was, they would serve the people of Michigan in the best manner possible.  Secretary Johnson and Attorney General Schuette, however, have broken that trust and shown where their priorities truly lie, and unfortunately, it isn’t with the people of Michigan.
Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Senate Democratic Leader
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