A newly-formed group calling itself Voters Not Donors (VND) is backing a legal request of the U.S. Supreme Court to stay a trial to determine whether Michigan’s Congressional and legislative maps have been gerrymandered and must be thrown out.
VNP claims that any such trial has been “tainted by the hyper-partisan and unethical actions of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson,” according to the group’s spokesman, longtime Republican Party political operative Stu Sandler.
The trial, which will begin on Tuesday (Feb. 5) without intervention by the Court, is the result of a lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters and its attorney, former Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer, against Michigan’s previous Secretary of State, who before Jan. 1 was Republican Ruth Johnson.
Sandler and VND argue that Benson, who assumed office a month ago, immediately forfeited her ability to credibly participate in the trial after she convened secret “settlement” meetings with Democratic plaintiffs while excluding legally recognized Republican intervenors in the case.
Last Friday, a United States District Court denied
Benson’s proposed settlement in part because of her participation in such secret meetings, contends VND. According to the legal brief, Benson’s “secret settlement talks also represented multiple staggering conflicts of interest.” Both the plaintiff’s attorney, Mark Brewer, and five of the 11 named plaintiffs in the case – William Grasha, Donna Farris, Diana Ketola, Jon LaSalle, and U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib — are Jocelyn Benson campaign contributors.
VND complains that Brewer has also been identified in media reports as Benson’s political mentor and the individual who
induced her to enter politics. As a result of Benson’s secret negotiations, VND charges, Brewer stands to receive millions of dollars in legal fees, rewarded for his “coaching” and campaign contributions with a seven-figure windfall at the expense of Michigan taxpayers.
“Jocelyn Benson has irredeemably demolished her ability to credibly
participate in this trial,” said Stu Sandler. “Michigan voters
deserve a Secretary of State willing to defend their best interests and oversee fair elections – not a partisan who has demonstrated time and again that her only real interest is rigging elections, rewarding her campaign contributors with huge paydays and secret