MSC gives parties in Grand Traverse Prosecutor v. Meijer, Dickinson Wright 35 days to file briefs

The Michigan Supreme Court has given parties in In re Investigative Subpoenas, Grand Traverse County Prosecutor v. Meijer Inc. and Dickinson Wright Employees 35 days to file brief amicus curiae.

The court directed the parties to address the effect, if there is any, of the  U.S. Supreme Court’s January decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In Citizens United, court overturned the 20-year-old Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce , 494 U.S. 652 (1990). It also threw a wrench into to a case in Northwest Michigan, Grand Traverse Prosecutor v. Meijer Inc.

In that case, Grand Traverse Prosecutor Alan Schneider got the go-ahead in November to pursue a felony investigation of the campaign finance violations, when the Michigan Court of Appeals stated that a lower court had improperly dismissed an action by Schneider to compel Meijer Inc. and Dickinson Wright to comply with investigative subpoenas related to violations of MCL 169.254, which prohibits corporations from making election campaign contributions.

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Teamsters and Chamber: ‘Strange bedfellows’

As the old saying goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” The Traverse City Record-Eagle noted that the Teamsters and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce have both filed briefs in the Acme Township v Meijer, Inc. case currently before the Michigan Supreme Court – both in support of Meijer.

The odd coupling consists of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Education Association, and Michigan Teamsters, who’ve spent millions to influence statewide elections. The Chamber and union groups mostly are bitter adversaries who spend campaign loot to crush the other side’s candidates.

But business and labor recently embraced like old frat brothers back on campus for homecoming. Why? Some noble mind-meld designed to pull salvageable bits of Michigan’s economy from the scrap heap?

Nope.

The Chamber and unions found common ground for one reason — self-protection.

Long story short: After being refused a zoning change to allow a new Meijer in Acme, the company allegedly created and funneled money into “bogus” citizens’ groups and a recall drive to remove politicians that opposed the new store. (Click here for the full blow-by-blow account).

Is this the End of Days?

No, says the TCRE, which opined that each side is trying to send a message to their respective justices:

The Michigan Chamber has pumped millions into campaigns to aid three current members of the state Supreme Court; the unions have significantly boosted Court Democrats, as well.

Might they be sending a not-so-subtle message to their high court beneficiaries? And might they be concerned some prosecutor will poke around their campaign practices?

The appeals court ruled conciliation deals do not negate potential criminal prosecutions. In short, those who break the law should be prepared to pay the consequences and not buy their way off the hook.

Acme residents deserve to know who’s responsible for the attempted coups in their community, and the Supreme Court should ignore big-dollar special interests who are best-served by secrecy and murk.

Prosecutor waits for ruling in Meijer case

“The wait continues for an appellate court decision that could potentially reveal who orchestrated election tampering in Acme Township,” reports the Traverse City Record Eagle.

“Civil suits by Acme officials against Meijer Inc. and the Village at Grand Traverse LLC took center stage over the last three years while a possible criminal investigation loomed in the background, awaiting a decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals that could come any day.

“The civil suits settled without identifying who authorized and participated in the manipulation of two Acme Township elections acknowledged by Meijer Inc. in a settlement in May of 2008 with Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.”