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Larry Inman recall effort is dead again, after Michigan nixes signatures

LANSING –  A state lawmaker accused of demanding campaign donations for his vote won’t face recall this year, after Michigan officials ruled that a group seeking to remove him didn’t collect enough signatures to force an election.

The Michigan Bureau of Elections announced the decision late Thursday, one month after a federal jury acquitted state Rep. Larry Inman, R-Williamsburg, of lying to the FBI. Jurors couldn’t reach a decision on bribery and extortion charges, prompting a mistrial.

Thursday’s ruling is the latest in a whirlwind of efforts surrounding the attempted recall of the Grand Traverse County politician. 

Elections officials initially declared the Recall Inman Committee's petition invalid because of typographical errors, but the Michigan Supreme Court revived the effort late last month by overturning the decision.

The group submitted nearly 14,000 signatures, but state officials said even fewer of them were valid during the second review. That’s largely because the state discovered nearly 300 new signatures made invalid by duplicate signatures — leaving the group short of the 12,201 needed to force a recall election. 

Signatures were also invalidated because signers listed home cities where they weren’t registered to vote, they didn’t live in Inman’s district, circulators made errors and other issues, the Bureau of Elections announced.

The northern Michigan group launched the recall campaign after Inman was indicted last May. He was accused of attempting to sell his June 2018 vote on a prevailing wage repeal initiative to a union in exchange for campaign donations.

Testifying in his own defense, Inman said he was battling an opioid addiction and doesn’t remember sending text messages to a Michigan Regional Carpenters and Millwrights official and lobbyist urging $30,000 in contributions ahead of a key vote, writing “people will not go down for $5,000.”

Inman missed 80 votes in the Legislature following the charges, some of which he said he missed due to treatment for opioid addiction

Inman was expelled from the House Republican caucus, stripped of committee assignments and barred from his office after the charges were announced. 

He’s resisted calls from his own party to resign and, in recent months, has regularly attended sessions in the Capitol and voted as an independent.

Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to set a date for a potential retrial. Inman could still face up to 20 years in prison if retried and convicted.

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