Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is speaking out on the call for the FBI to open an unbiased investigation into GOP gubernatorial front-runner and Attorney General Bill Schuette.
What's the background?
According to an Associated Press report in May, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley (R) — who is also running for Michigan governor — lodged accusations against fellow GOP candidate Schuette, asserting that Schuette had been personally involved in property transfers in the U.S. Virgin Islands while all of Schuette's assets were supposed to be set up in a blind trust.
In May, Schuette called the allegations false, and said that his family inherited land when their parents passed away, and was adamant that he did not violate the blind trust — which the report noted Schuette had "voluntarily created" — for the express purpose of avoiding conflicts of interest.
"It appears as though he's been directing the purchase and transfer of millions of dollars in offshore assets while attorney general," Calley said in May.
For evidence, Calley provided Schuette-signed real-estate records in May that showed the transfer of three St. John properties valued at over $3 million between two LLCs that bore Schuette's mailing address.
According to the Detroit Free Press's Paul Egan, "Schuette vigorously denied that his family real estate should have been placed in a blind trust but his officials acknowledged that staffers signed as witnesses some of the transactions while at work."
The Detroit News reported that Calley said Schuette broke the law when he used Michigan state staff as notaries or witnesses on his private real estate documents.
“This is state staff, in state offices, on state time, and it apparently has happened on multiple occasions,” Calley said.
Schuette's office defended the use of state staff, and said that the process "took staff only seconds or minutes during otherwise busy days," according to the Detroit News' Jonathan Oosting,
"[T]hat doesn’t change the fact that it is illegal," Calley told The Detroit News in response to Schuette's office's defense.
What is being said now?
On Monday, Snyder called the criminal complaint accusations against Schuette “clearly a serious matter.”
Snyder's office told the Detroit Free Press that “it’s important that the FBI be allowed to do a thorough investigation without any undue influence and let the facts take them wherever they lead.”
According to the Detroit Free Press, Ingham County prosecutor Carol Siemon referred an attorney's concerns about potential criminal wrongdoing on Schuette's behalf to the FBI.
According to the outlet, the FBI would not confirm if they had opened an investigation into Schuette, declining to comment.
Schuette spokesperson Andrea Bitely responded to the news and said, "This is a phony attack from a disgruntled trial lawyer who is playing politics with the judicial system."
Snyder previously endorsed Calley for governor, while President Donald Trump endorsed Schuette.
Calley's campaign issued a statement accusing Schuette of engaging in wrongdoing and expressed his gratitude that the matter was referred to the FBI.
“I’m thankful that Bill Schuette’s illegal use of taxpayer-funded employees to facilitate multimillion dollar offshore land deals has been referred to the FBI," Calley's statement read.
"The Attorney General broke the law by using taxpayer resources for personal gain and that warrants a federal investigation," the statement continued. "The main questions now are if Bill Schuette will be held to the same standards he applies to others and when an indictment might occur."
The Michigan Democratic Party issued its own statement on Snyder's call for an FBI investigation.
Party Chairman Brandon Dillon said, “Even Gov. Rick Snyder is throwing Bill Schuette under the bus because there’s absolutely no excuse for his schemes and misuse of taxpayer funds that are now on the FBI's watch."
A June poll from NMB Research has Schuette currently favored to win the party nomination, with 45 percent support.