Bill Schuette hires partisan AG staff ahead of Michigan gubernatorial run

Dec 15, 2017 at 1:10 pm

According to Michigan's constitution and civil service rules, "no appointments, promotions, demotions, or removals in the classified service shall be made for religious, racial, or partisan considerations."

Yet it would appear that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette flouts the spirit, if not the letter, of these rules, having filled his taxpayer-funded office's payroll with partisan GOP operatives and campaign activists ahead of his gubernatorial run, a Free Press report finds.

Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Free Press show that Schuette hired four GOP campaign operatives to be "constituent relations representatives" and "executive office representatives." These include Judi Schwalbach, a former Escanaba mayor and influential Upper Peninsula Republican; Luke Londo, a digital director for several prominent Republican campaigns; Michael Sullivan, a coordinator for a 2014 Republican state House campaign; and Brandon Sinclair, a former coordinator for the Kent County Republican Party who also managed a 2016 state House campaign.
The staff joins other partisans on Schuette's AG staff, including Dennis Starner, who is paid $82,000 a year to be Schuette's driver as well as his campaign treasurer. One staffer is a self-described "Tea Party organizer," while another was political director for Schuette's 2014 attorney general campaign.
When asked about the staffers' partisan affiliations, Schuette told the Free Press, "They'd better be, or they're not going to be working for me," he said.
The civil servant rules are meant to ensure that state workforces are merit-based, not partisan. The Free Press notes that Schuette's predecessors, Republican Attorney General Mike Cox and Democratic Attorney General Jennifer Granholm, did not have these positions.

Schuette has gone all-in on his appeal to Michigan's right, repeatedly touting his connections to President Donald Trump. Last month, he was spotted at a Macomb County GOP fundraiser with alt-right figure Steve Bannon.

Read the full Free Press report here.