Andy Dillon recall, Michigan (2008)

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The Andy Dillon recall was an effort launched in February 2008 by Taxpayers to Recall Andy Dillon. Voters rejected the recall on the November 2008 ballot, with 64% voting against the recall.

Andy Dillon is the Democratic Speaker of the House of Michigan's State Legislature. He represents Michigan's 17th House district. Rose Bogaert was the leader of the recall effort.

The Secretary of State certified the recall for the November 2008 ballot on Sept. 5, 2008, following a court-ordered recount of the submitted signatures.[1]

On May 1, recall supporters submitted 15,498 signatures to election authorities,[2][3][4][5][6] but Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land announced on June 5 that recall proponents didn't collect enough valid signatures. Elections officials said 7,948 of the signatures submitted were valid, which is 776 fewer than needed to make the August ballot.[7],,[8][9]

On August 27, a federal judge ordered Terri Lynn Land to re-count the signatures, pursuant to a federal lawsuit, Bogaert v. Land filed by supporters of the recall.

Dillon filed an appeal of the ruling with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2008.[10]

The case was filed in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati after a request for an emergency motion asking Bell to reconsider the ruling was denied.[11]

"We believe the judge's ruling is utterly unfair and we intend to challenge it," said Mark Fisk, a partner with Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications, the lead consultant agency in the recall defense effort.[11]

Federal lawsuit filed

On July 18, recall organizer Rose Bogaert filed a federal lawsuit, Bogaert v. Land. In the lawsuit, Bogaert asks for emergency consideration of a request for a preliminary injunction relative to the signatures filed in the Andy Dillon recall (2008).[12]

Bogaert claims that her rights under the U.S. Constitution were violated by MCL 168.957, the Michigan statute that forbids recall signatures to be collected by people who live in a district other than the district of the legislator whose recall is sought.

The action filed by Bogaert is a 42 U.S.C. 1983 civil rights action. She says the residency requirements of MCL 168.957 are unconstitutional and seeks to have 2,053 signatures re-instated.

An earlier request by recall organizer Leon Drolet to the Michigan Court of Appeals on a different matter related to signature validity was unsuccessful since the court refused to hear his case.[13]

Bogaert had previously indicated she was considering filing a federal lawsuit: "This isn't a partisan matter, it's a citizen's rights matter," Bogaert said. "If we need to go to federal court, then that's what we'll do."[13]

Judge gives recall new life

On August 27, 2008, United States District Judge Robert Holmes Bell issued a preliminary injunction ordering Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land to re-examine the signatures without reference to statutory requirements prohibiting non-residents of Dillon's district from circulating petitions; and further ordered that if sufficient signatures are found, then Land must place the recall against Representative Dillon on the November 4, 2008 general election ballot.[14][15]

In the ruling, Judge Bell agreed with recall supporters that part of Michigan's law governing recall signature gathering is unconstitutional because it infringes on political speech rights protected in the First Amendment.[16]

Bell ruled that signatures from voters inside Dillon's district should be counted even if they were collected by petition circulators who lived outside the district or weren't registered to vote. Under Michigan law, those signatures aren't considered valid.[16]

"The circulation of recall petitions is core political speech," Bell wrote, saying that recall organizers' First Amendment rights were "severely burdened" by state law.[16]

Bell said the state and Dillon did not show how requiring recall petition circulators to be registered voters and district residents improves the integrity of recall petitions.[16]

Background of the recall campaign

The recall effort was launched in response to Dillon's October 1, 2007 vote in favor of HB 5194, which increases Michigan taxes, and his support of the Michigan service tax. These bills amounted to a state tax hike of $1.385 billion. HB 5194 increased the Michigan income tax rate from 3.9% to 4.35%, effective immediately upon passage on October 1, 2007.[17][18][19]

If Dillon is recalled, it will be the first recall of a Michigan legislator since 1983, when Phil Mastin and David Serotkin were removed from office after voting for a state income tax hike of $675 million. Funded by Lansing insiders to defeat the recall, Serotkin and Mastin outspent pro-recall forces by better than 10-1 margins. However, in both cases, the constituents who had recently elected them to office voted overwhelmingly (by 2-1 margins) to remove them.[20]

Recall petition circulators allege harassment

State employees used as petition blockers?

Organizers of the recall effort claim Dillon's staffers are stalking petition carriers, harassing them, and drowning them out with noise. Leon Drolet, of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, said they identified two petition "blockers" on March 17, 2008, as paid members of Dillon's legislative staff. He said the group plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against each person involved and is offering a $250 bounty for anyone who can identify other "blockers.""They (volunteers) try and overcome the gang noise, but it's too much; petitioners would leave. That's exactly what Dillon's thugs wanted to have happen," said Drolet, adding that some volunteers have claimed they were followed home or on routine errands by petition blockers.."[21]

Pauline Verougstraete, who was recruited by Michigan Taxpayers Alliance to coordinate recall petition efforts, filed police reports in Redford Township and Dearborn Heights in February and March claiming she's been "stalked" and nearly runoff the road by anti-recall blockers. "This is insanity. It's getting ridiculous," she said.[21]

Thugs of Redford Township

Was a convicted criminal used as a blocker?

On April 23, Rose Bogaert of the Wayne County Taxpayer Association and a leader in the recall effort, indicated on her website that Marcel Mitchell had utilized as a petition blocker by the Dillon blocking forces. Mitchell has multiple convictions for armed robbery and felony illegal possession of firearms.[22][23] According to a local newspaper, "Recall opponents hired crews to thwart signature collection—including, as it turned out this week, at least one man with a lengthy criminal record."[24]

Democratic Party spokeswoman Liz Kerr acknowledged that Mitchell, who has been convicted eight times of armed robbery, gun charges, and other offenses since 1990, was hired to inform residents about the Redford Township lawmaker's voting record. She said Mitchell got out of prison last year and is on parole.[25] Recall proponents say Mitchell's job is to scare voters. "They are pulling out all the stops... hiring a violent felon with a rap sheet and throwing him in the field for stalking and intimidation efforts," said Leon Drolet of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance.[25]

Democratic Party hires undercover agents and felon

Mark Brewer, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, told a reporter for the Detroit Free Press that they have hired "undercover investigators" and that these investigators "observed Detroit residents being paid to sign and circulate petitions in violation of state law," and have signed and submitted affidavits testifying to what they have observed. One of the four affidavits presented to Judge Giovan in mid-April was signed by Marcel Mitchell, the felon whose hiring by the Michigan Democratic Party has attracted concern.[24] Democratic Party spokeswoman Liz Kerr told the Detroit News that "there's nothing illegal" about hiring Mitchell.[26]

As the Michigan Democratic Party has engaged in undercover investigations outside of the scope of official law enforcement channels in the state, it has alleged that state law by letting signatures be collected by people who don't live in the district, and that "recall organizers paid homeless people in Detroit to forge the signatures of district residents listed in the phone book." Recall organizers deny the charges.[27]

Blocking robocalls

Rich Weiler of the Michigan Association of Police Organizations launched a robocall in mid-April asking people not to sign the recall petition.[28] According to online news analyst Chet Zarko,[29] the script for the robocall said:

Hello, this is Rich Weiler, president of the Michigan Association of Police Organizations, the state's largest law enforcement group. An extremist group is circulating petitions to recall State Representative Andy Dillon. Troopers and officers across the state support Andy Dillon and urge you not to sign a recall petition. These paid out-of-towners are using illegal and deceptive tactics to get you to sign. Don't let them get away with it. The Michigan Association of Police Organizations strongly opposes a recall and we urge you not to sign a recall petition.
Mr. Zarko comments, "You'd think police officers of all people would know the law and know that you don't accuse people of illegal tactics without evidence."

Reaction to blocking

The blocking effort has attracted condemnation online.[30][31] The online condemnations have attracted their own condemnation from the largest liberal blog in Michigan, which refers to "an army of recall monkeys in high dudgeon."[32]

Anti-tax rally on April 15

Recall organizers took advantage of the symbolism of April 15, the federal tax return filing deadline, to sponsor an anti-tax rally in Lansing.[33][34] Redford Township officials notified the recall supporters that they planned "to deploy police to maintain order during the demonstration and will send them the bill." This decision was made by Redford Township Supervisor Miles Handy, who is a leading opponent of the recall. Leon Drolet of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance said the township's threat was "outrageous and unconstitutional, but not unexpected."[35][36]

Dillon supporters go to court

On Thursday, March 17, supporters of Andy Dillon filed a court motion with Wayne County Circuit Judge William Giovan asking that Judge Giovan issue an injunction against the organizers of the recall effort. Instead, Judge Giovan issued a court order saying that the recall organizers must not use petition circulators who don't reside in the district. Recall organizers say they aren't using out-of-district circulators and that therefore the court order will have no impact on them. Recall supporter Leon Drolet said the court motion is evidence that Dillon supporters believe the recall effort is making progress. "They are desperate and they need to throw up the long ball here," he is reported to have said.[37][38][39]

Bogaert, head of the recall effort, reported on April 23 that after hearing reports of petitioners being intimidated by Redford Township police officers, Judge Giovan called the Chief of Police of Redford Township and ordered the behavior to cease.[40][41]

Role of residency requirements in recall campaigns

See also: Residency requirements for petition circulators

In California, California state senator Jeff Denham has provided videotaped evidence to the Attorney General of California that petition circulators collecting signatures to force a recall election against him (see Jeff Denham recall (2008)) came from out-of-state. Both Michigan and California in their laws governing recall require that petition circulators live in the district in which the recall is sought. The complaints about out-of-district circulators in the Jeff Denham recall have resulted in no legal impact on the recall campaign.[42]

In Michigan, there is ongoing litigation over the constitutionality of residency requirements on recall petition circulators. The lawsuit Ebbers v. Secretary of State was filed in February 2008 by a group of citizens attempting to recall Robert Dean. Kent County Circuit Court Judge Robert Redford ruled against the plaintiffs in that case. His decision is being appealed.

Petition circulators

National Ballot Access was the signature vendor for this petition drive.

See also

External links


  1. Detroit Free Press: "Dillon recall to be on ballot," Sept. 5, 2008
  2. Detroit Free Press: "Dillon recall effort advances," May 2, 2008
  3. Michigan Votes: "Profle of the Honorable Andy Dillon"
  4. Rep. Andy Dillon complete voting record and bills introduced
  5. Press and Guide: "House Speaker Dillon fighting recall effort," April 20, 2008
  6. Detroit News: "Bid to recall House Speaker Andy Dillon takes historic step," May 2, 2008
  7. Associated Press: "Mich. House speaker recall fails; too few valid signatures," June 5, 2008
  8. Detroit News: "Probe urged in Dillon recall drive," June 3, 2008
  9. Detroit Free Press: "Dillon backers charge forgery," June 3, 2008
  10. Associated Press: "Michigan House Speaker fights recall effort in court," Sept. 2, 2008
  11. 11.0 11.1 Dearborn Press and Guide: "Dillon, Sec. of State appeal recall ruling," Sept. 7, 2008 (dead link)
  12. Associated Press: "Failed Dillon recall effort tries again," July 23, 2008
  13. 13.0 13.1 Detroit News: "Dillon recall all but dead?," June 12, 2008
  14. Ballot Access News, "Michigan petitioning victory," August 27, 2008
  15. Detroit Free Press: "Ruling revives recall effort against speaker Dillon," Aug. 27, 2008
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Associated Press: "Court revives effort to recall Mich. House speaker," Aug. 27, 2008
  17. Lunchbucket Conservative, Sunday, Bloody Sunday, October 1, 2007
  18. Andy Dillon's legislative website
  19. Michigan Votes, 2007 House Bill 5194 (Increase income tax from 3.9 percent to 4.35 percent)
  20. Michigan Capitol Confidential, Michigan's tax revolts, 1983 and today
  21. 21.0 21.1 Detroit News, Foul play alleged in Dillon recall, March 19, 2008
  22. Marcel Mitchell offender tracking information
  23. The Saga Continues, April 23, 2008
  24. 24.0 24.1 Detroit Free Press, Fight to recall Dillon has grown nasty, April 25, 2008
  25. 25.0 25.1 Detroit News: "House speaker's foes criticize Dems for hiring felon," April 25, 2008
  26. Detroit News, House speaker's foes criticize Dems for hiring felon; Organizers of bid to recall Dillon claim parolee who tells voters about legislator's record is out to intimidate., April 25, 2008
  27. Associated Press, House Speaker Andy Dillon's opponents claim overwhelming number of signatures on recall petition, May 2, 2008
  28. Audiotape of the Rich Weiler robocall
  29. Outside Lansing, "Breaking: RoboCalls from police lobby attempt to protect Dillon from recall petition", Chet Zarko, April 15, 2008
  30. Stop the ACLU, Mich. Speaker of House Employs State Paid Thugs to Stop Recall Effort, March 30, 2008
  31. Right Michigan, Andy Dillon's Thugs Going National, April 1, 2008
  32. Michigan Liberal, Thug life, Godwin's Law, and the recall of Andy Dillon, April 9, 2008
  33. Detroit Free Press, "Recall campaign to sponsor anti-tax rally today", April 15, 2008
  34. Detroit News, "House speaker Dillon focus of dueling rallies today", April 15, 2008
  35. Detroit Free Press, "Cops to maintain order at anti-tax group's protest", April 15, 2008
  36. Observer & Eccentric, Competing crowds support, blast House Speaker Andy Dillon, April 17, 2008
  37. Associated Press, Recall fight over Michigan House Speaker Dillon headed to court, April 18, 2008
  38. WWMT-TV, Recall fight over Speaker Dillon headed to court, April 17, 2008
  39. AP Michigan News, Judge rules on Dillon recall effort, April 18, 2008
  40. Wayne County Taxpayers website, The Sage Continues, April 23, 2008
  41. Heritage Newspapers: "House Speaker Dillon fighting recall attempt," April 20, 2008
  42. State Political Blogs, A Tale of Two Recalls, April 17, 2008

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