Paul Scott recall, Michigan House of Representatives (2011)
An effort to recall Paul Scott, a member of the Republican Party, from his elected position representing District 51 in the Michigan House of Representatives took place in 2011. Although the unofficial results at the time showed Scott losing by just over 200 votes, he conceded defeat at 11:35 p.m. on November 8, 2011, making him the first Michigan state legislator to be recalled since 1983.
The recall election almost didn't take place. It was initially scheduled for November 8, but on October 6 a decision by a three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court should have heard Paul's request to keep the election off the ballot. This action sent the case back to the lower court, who halted the election. Recall organizers appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court which, on October 20, ruled the recall should proceed exactly as it was prior to the injunction, putting it back on the November 8 ballot.
The recall language cited Scott’s support of education cuts as well as taxes on retirement income as reasons for the effort.
Path to the ballot
Organizers were required to turn in valid signatures equal to 25% of the ballots cast for the Governor in the most recent election in the district where the recall is taking place. According to Genesee County elections supervisor Doreen Fulcher, about 9,604 signatures would be necessary to put the recall on the November 2011 ballot.
On August 5, 2011, recall organizers filed 12,200 signatures with the Secretary of State. "Getting that many signatures in such a short amount of time is monumental," said Doug Pratt, spokesman for the Michigan Education Association. Sufficient signatures were validated, putting the recall on the November 8, 2011 ballot.
Scott filed an appeal in Genesee Circuit Court alleging the recall language did not have "sufficient clarity" as required by Michigan law. Additionally, he filed suit in the state Court of Appeals, stating the signatures should not be verified while his first suit was pending.
On September 12, Genesee Circuit Court Judge Richard Yuille rejected Scott's appeal, giving the go ahead for the recall election. Yuille ruled he only had the authority to decide if the language was clear, not if it was truthful. Two days earlier the state Supreme Court said they would not hear his appeal regarding the verification of signatures.
A three-judge panel on the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled on October 6 that the lower court should not have rejected Scott's appeal, and sent the case back to a lower court. On October 13, Ingham Judge Clinton Canady issued a temporary injunction against the election, saying he had to do so in order to comply with the Court of Appeals ruling. Recall organizers appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, who gave the go-ahead for the recall to proceed.
The Michigan Information and Research Service commissioned a poll of likely voters. It was conducted by Practical Political Consulting November 1-3.
November 8 recall
- See also: November 8, 2011 election results
Unofficial votes show Scott lost by 197 votes.
|Recall of Michigan State Representative Paul Scott, 2011|
|Shall Paul Scott be recalled from the office of Michigan State Representative, District 51?||Vote %||Votes|
The main issue of the recall was Scott's support for cuts to education, including a per-pupil cut to the state's K-12 foundation grant. The organization Friends of Kent County Schools issued a list of talking points, which Scott agreed to respond to. In it he explained his position, stating:
The foundation grant was reduced this fiscal year. However, it is not possible to put an exact number on it as it varies slightly from school to school. The average reduction was $300 per pupil. The one-time funding increase for best practices will provide an extra $100 per pupil this year. Also, schools will receive another extra $100 per pupil to deal with out-of-control retirement costs. When you include these two items, most schools will realize a reduction of only $100 per pupil or less. The glaring inaccuracy in this claim is that these cuts are somehow permanent. No appropriation or budget is ever permanent; it changes year to year based on revenues and other factors.
Since the beginning, critics asserted that the recall effort was being organized and carried out by unions, most of whom were outside of Scott's district. Grand Blanc Public Schools Superintendent Mike Newton stated, “It really seems to have basically been organized across the state. You have people from the AFL-CIO coming in. I don’t know that first hand, but that’s what I’ve been told. That’s what seems to be taking place."
In early August, the Michigan Education Association (MEA) was reported to have given at least $25,000 towards the gathering of signatures. Campaign finance reports filed by Citizens Against Government Overreach backed up the criticism. Through July 20 the report showed two donations - $25,000 from the MEA PAC and a $100 donation from an unnamed source. The report showed $13,607.72 in spending. The largest payment was $10,000 to Practical Political Consulting, who're based in Lansing.
According to campaign finance reports due October 25, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce spent $51,284.03 between July 21 and October 20 in support of Scott. The money was spent on three sets of campaign literature distributed in Scott's district as well as an add-on for radio stations.
- Recall campaigns in Michigan
- Political recall efforts, 2011
- Laws governing recall in Michigan
- Paul Scott
- Dane 101, "News From Our Neighbors: The history of the recall of Michigan Rep. Paul Scott," October 24, 2011
- Flint Journal "Recall effort against Rep. Paul Scott to kick off with Grand Blanc Township event this week," July 18, 2011
- ‘’Michigan Radio, “Michigan state representative Paul Scott has been recalled, November 8, 2011
- Detroit Free Press, "Recall of Genesee County lawmaker brought to surprise halt," October 6, 2011
- The Detroit News, "State Rep. Scott recall election halted," October 14, 2011
- The Detroit News, "Mich. Supreme Court rules Scott recall vote can proceed," October 20, 2011
- Michigan Live "Scott files appeal in attempt to stave off recall effort," August 5, 2011
- ABC 12 "Rep. Paul Scott recall language approved," July 21, 2011
- MLive, "Recall organizers moving ahead with effort against state Rep. Paul Scott; Scott has challenges against signatures and recall language," August 24, 2011
- Detroit Free Press "Recall drive against GOP state Rep. Paul Scott turns in enough signatures; Snyder recall effort continues," August 5, 2011
- MLive, "Rep. Paul Scott plans to fight recall after judge denies appeal," September 12, 2011
- Detroit Free Press, "Court panel steps in to stop recall election of Genesee County lawmaker," October 7, 2011
- MLive, "Rep. Paul Scott: 'The recall isn't off, but there has been an injunction'," October 7, 2011
- The Detroit News, "Judge halts recall vote for state Rep. Scott," October 13, 2011
- MLive, "Poll shows Paul Scott beating recall with 50 percent of vote," November 4, 2011
- Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Teacher Union Recall Target Responds to K-12 Budget Critics," August 9, 2011
- Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Who Is Really Trying to Recall a Michigan GOP Lawmaker, and Will They Win?," August 11, 2011
- MLive, "Finance report shows union bankrolling Paul Scott recall effort," September 1, 2011
- MLive, "Michigan Chamber of Commerce spends $51,200 in Paul Scott recall effort," October 25, 2011