Lee Chatfield’s home searched amid criminal probe, Dana Nessel confirms
MACKINAC ISLAND — Investigators have searched the northern Michigan home of former House Speaker Lee Chatfield, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel confirmed to Bridge Michigan on Wednesday.
Chatfield’s sister-in-law has accused him of sexual assault, and police have sought records related to his finances during his 2014 campaign and while in office from 2015 through 2020.
Nessel confirmed the raid during an interview Wednesday at the Mackinac Policy Conference, telling a reporter “your information is accurate” when asked if the Michigan State Police have searched Chatfield’s home.
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Nessel declined to comment on whether Chatfield cooperated with the investigation, or whether authorities have interviewed him. She also did not say when the search occurred, only that “there was a search warrant executed.”
Chatfield, 34, a Republican, was the state’s youngest House speaker. He has not spoken publicly since his 26-year-old sister-in-law told Bridge Michigan and police in December that he sexually abused her for years, beginning when she was a teenage student at the Northern Michigan Christian Academy in Cheboygan County’s Burt Lake.
Chatfield’s father, Rusty Chatfield, runs the school, and Lee Chatfield was a teacher and coach there when Rebekah Chatfield said he began grooming and then assaulting her starting when she was 15 or 16 years old.
Rebekah Chatfield later went on to marry Lee Chatfield’s younger brother, Aaron.
In an interview with Bridge, Aaron Chatfield characterized his older brother as a philanderer who traveled frequently, lived a luxurious lifestyle and was “gone all the time” when he was in office.
As Bridge and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network along with other news outlets have reported, Chatfield was known for prolific fundraising and spending. A single nonprofit tied to Chatfield, the Peninsula Fund, spent nearly half-a-million dollars on travel and food in 2020, records show.
Records obtained by Bridge show that state police in February raided the Bath Township home of two close Chatfield associates, Rob and Anne Minard, seeking financial records tied to Chatfield’s campaigns and time in office.
A warrant for that search gave police permission to take “any and all records” since 2014 related to political action committees and 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporations associated with Chatfield.
Through a lawyer, the married Chatfield has denied the assault allegations, saying he and Rebekah Chatfield had a years-long affair that began when both were consenting adults.
His attorney, Mary Chartier, has also said that “to (Chatfield’s) knowledge, all finances were handled properly, and every law was followed.”
Neither Chartier nor Rebekah Chatfield’s attorney, Jamie White, responded to calls and emails from Bridge on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the Michigan State Police declined to comment, citing an active investigation.
Public records show Lee Chatfield shares the address in Levering with his parents.
Reached by Bridge on Wednesday, Rusty Chatfield declined to comment.
It’s the fourth known police search tied to the Chatfield case. Beyond the search of the Minard house, police also searched the Northern Michigan Christian Academy in January and confiscated Aaron Chatfield’s cell phone in February.
Because of court-ordered suppressions, limited information is publicly known about the nature of those searches.
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