BATTLE CREEK (WWJ/AP) - A former Michigan lawmaker's switch to the Republican Party just before an election deadline was itself "not a mistake" but the plotting around it was, said state House Speaker Jase Bolger, who was recently cleared for his role in the political drama.
Ex-Rep. Roy Schmidt of Grand Rapids was accused of trying to pay a novice Democrat to run against him after he switched to the Republican Party. A yearlong probe into the scandal wrapped up last week with no indictments.
"Roy Schmidt switching parties was not a mistake. I would do that again," said Bolger, R-Marshall.
According to Bolger, the mistake in this case was worrying too much about Schmidt's opponent in the election.
"I've learned a lot from this process," Bolger said. "I issued a public apology back originally in July. ... I've sought to live by that apology. Within that I pledged to focus on the issues, to learn from this mistake."
Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, serving as a one-judge grand jury, said that an "exhaustive and diligent" probe lasting nearly a year uncovered no crime or wrongdoing and that charges were not warranted.
Schmidt's switch to the GOP in May 2012, just before the deadline for the August primary election, came under scrutiny when it came to light that his Democratic opponent did not meet a residency requirement. Investigators discovered that the Grand Rapids legislator had his son offer the man - 22-year-old friend Matt Mojzak - $450, later upped to $1,000, to run as a Democrat against Schmidt.
Mojzak ultimately turned down the money after quickly dropping out of the race under the media glare.
Bolger, who cannot run for his House seat again because of term limits and has said he didn't know Schmidt was going to try to offer money to Mojzak, barely survived re-election because of his role in the scheme. Schmidt, who lost re-election, has said that he wants to run for his old seat.
TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
for more features.