Bonuses raise new questions in former GOP Speaker Chatfield’s tangled web

LANSING — The Michigan Democratic Party is demanding a full investigation into the bonus payouts of hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars to members of former House Speaker Lee Chatfield’s staff, including those that went to two of his former aides who are separately accused of mishandling his campaign funds.

The  Minards were top aides when Chatfield was the speaker of the state House, from 2019-2020. The Detroit News has reported that Chatfield staffers received more than $300,000 in taxpayer-funded bonuses over a two-year period, including nearly $50,000 to Anne and Rob Minard.

“The silence from Republican leadership on exorbitant bonuses paid with taxpayer dollars cannot stand,” said Lavora Barnes, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. “The party that often claims the mantle of fiscal responsibility is shockingly silent about this taxpayer-funded windfall for political employees – the height of hypocrisy. We demand an immediate and full-scale investigation to determine the scope of these unsavory practices.  The people of Michigan deserve a full accounting.”

Raising more troubling questions, the Michigan Campaign Finance Network reported this week that it examined donations reported to five PACs connected to Chatfield and the Minards, who received compensation to keep track of the former speaker’s financial records of his political accounts through their firm, Victor Strategies. The network identified at least 24 instances where another PAC reported giving to a Chatfield-connected committee that never reported receiving the contribution. It couldn’t account for as much as $100,000.

The Michigan State Police raided the Minard home last week and reportedly left with suitcases, computers and bags of documents.

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