|Leonard and Chatfield swapped tens of thousands of dollars between their campaigns and PACs; then, they hired the same staff members to sweep their backdoor dealings under the rug|
LANSING — Former Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield’s alleged and financial misconduct have revealed a new window into the suspicious dealings of those who work for him.
Anne and Rob Minard, the husband-and-wife team that worked in his state office for example, doubled their income by operating their private consulting firm, Victor Strategies, even though they held taxpayer-funded positions in Chatfield’s House office. Anne Minard was also tapped to head up Chatfield’s Peninsula Fund, a so-called “nonprofit social welfare” organization that in turn hired Victor Strategies as a consultant — even though each operated from the same PO box address.
As Speaker, Chatfield allowed the Minards to leverage their positions on his staff to influence our state government, all while receiving over $500,000 in private payments to their firm from state officials hoping to earn their favor. Chatfield even rewarded the Minards with large annual bonuses, although he neglected to inform other Republican lawmakers he was doing so.
Before being hired by Chatfield, Rob Minard worked as Director of Caucus Services under Tom Leonard when the latter was Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives. During this time, Leonard also employed two younger brothers of Chatfield’s, Aaron and Paul, on his state House staff.
“All of Chatfield’s misconduct as Speaker of the House was made possible because of the groundwork laid by Tom Leonard,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said. “Chatfield is Leonard’s legacy, and he shouldn’t be trusted in office any more than Chatfield himself.”
Leonard, Chatfield, and the Minards represent a cohort within the Michigan GOP whose finances boil down to a single slush fund being passed between the members every election cycle, and profits are skimmed off the top. Chatfield donates to Leonard, who donates back to Chatfield and hires his family, employs his confidants, and shapes state legislation in whatever way will benefit their shared interests.
“The time has come to reckon with Chatfield’s egregious gaming of Michigan’s political system,” Barnes said. “Why would you elect Leonard to head up an investigation on behalf of the state into alleged misconduct perpetrated by his longtime friend and political ally?”
Barnes went on to say that Chatfield’s and Leonard’s incestuous political network must be uprooted if the state’s GOP leadership is ever to regain legitimacy. “But you can’t put a fire out from inside the house, and Leonard has been knee-deep in this scandal for nearly a decade,” she added.