Former Republican lawmaker acquitted on charges in federal corruption case  ⋆

For the second time, a former Michigan lawmaker has been acquitted on charges connected to a public corruption case.

Following a four-day trial in federal court in Grand Rapids, a jury on Thursday found former state Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) not guilty on charges of attempted extortion and soliciting a bribe connected to the 2018 vote to repeal the state’s prevailing wage, which mandates union-level wages for certain publicly financed construction projects.

“We’re very happy Mr. Inman was acquitted,” Inman’s lawyer Parker Douglas told The Detroit News. “He was innocent when he walked into the courthouse and he was innocent when he walked out. We are happy he is still innocent because he did nothing and the jury knew that.”

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Inman was tried on the same charges in 2019, but a jury failed to reach a verdict on the attempted extortion and bribery counts, although they acquitted him on a separate charge of lying to the FBI. 

A second trial was scheduled after the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a decision by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker to dismiss the bribery and extortion charges.

“While I respectfully disagree with this outcome, today’s verdict does not deter my commitment to fight public corruption with impartiality and safeguard the public’s trust in our democracy,” said Mark Totten, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan in a statement issued Thursday.

At the heart of the case were texts Inman sent union lobbyists seeking campaign contributions just days ahead of the prevailing wage vote. Federal prosecutors argued the texts amounted to an “overt act” of attempting to extort and solicit a bribe. 

“People will not go down for $5,000, not that we dont [sic] appreciate it,” Inman said in one of the texts to Lisa Canada, who was then the political and legislative director for the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (MRCC). “Please get with the all the trades by Monday, I would suggest maxing out on all 12, or at least doubling what you have given them on Tuesday.”

Inman, who was removed from the House GOP caucus and stripped of committee assignments following his indictment, said he had an opioid addiction following multiple surgeries and didn’t recall even sending the text messages. He resisted calls from House Republican leaders to resign and finished out his third term in 2020.

Democrats were able to restore the prevailing wage statute last year as part of a package of bills that also repealed Right to Work. Both policies had been a priority for Democrats after gaining control of the Michigan Legislature for the first time in decades.

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authored by Jon King
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2024%2F01%2F12%2Fformer-republican-lawmaker-acquitted-on-charges-in-federal-corruption-case%2F

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