LANSING, Mich. — Michigan House Democrats are calling for an investigation into allegations of misconduct against former GOP House Speaker Lee Chatfield.
“I don't care what the political party is; if there is wrongdoing going on, it needs to be exposed, plain and simple. I don't think anybody should be exempt from that. If it's wrong, it's wrong,” says State Rep. Terry Sabo (D–Muskegon).
Sabo is among a group of House Democrats introducing a resolution, calling for the creation of a special committee to investigate allegations against the former leader of the state’s lower chamber.
Chatfield, who termed out of office at the end of 2020, is under investigation by Michigan State Police amid allegations that he sexually abused his sister-in-law beginning when she was a teen, which he denies.
However, Chatfield’s prolific fundraising while leading the House has also been called into question; authorities raided the home of his former chief of staff last month.
Sabo says there are two areas that need to be investigated by the Legislature. “The misuse of public funds and the allegation that was happening, I think that's very important for our members to know," says Sabo, "but I think it's also important for the public to know. And then, of course, any kind of relationships that were happening during his time here at the Capitol.”
While Democrats want a bipartisan committee in the Legislature to look into it, the resolution expected to be introduced Thursday is unlikely to gain support from Republican House leaders.
“The police and the attorney general are looking into what happened. The House is staying focused on cooperating with the Michigan State Police and the Lansing Police Department, assisting their investigations and getting them whatever they need. Partisan press releases won't change that,” says Gideon D’Assandro, communications director for Michigan House Republicans.
“I think we need to do a better job of earning the public trust and whatever way that is done. I am certainly open to, you know, those conversations to try to find that opportunity. And I think this is just one way of doing it is by starting an ethics committee to open an investigation into finding out what's going on inside the Capitol here in regards to our former speaker,” Sabo added.
The police investigation into Chatfield is ongoing, and he has not been charged with any crimes.