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Oct
2015
27

Sigmund Fraud: More Than 100,000 Prevailing Wage Repeal Signatures Appear Invalid in MI

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The effort to repeal the prevailing wage in Michigan via ballot initiative has hit a major stumbling block. A sample taken by the state Board of Elections found that many of the signatures turned in by anti-wage front group, Protect Michigan Taxpayers, were invalid. 

The labor-backed group working to fight repeal, Protect Michigan Jobs, held a press conference on Monday to announce research of their own that shows many other signatures are duplicates, likely leaving the effort “woefully short” of the 252,523 valid signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot.  

John Pirich, an attorney representing Protect Michigan Jobs, explained the rationale for their claims:

The state Bureau of Elections took a random sample of 509 signatures and found 154 were not valid, because the people who signed were not registered voters or there were technical deficiencies, such as a missing date, Pirich said. He said further scrutiny by his law firm and Lansing consultants Practical Political Consulting found another 65 signatures in the sample were duplicates, bringing the number of valid signatures in the sample to 290, which he said is “well below the threshold for denial.”

Under state law, signing the petition twice invalidates both signatures.

Protect Michigan Jobs then entered every signature into a database and found 18.6% of them were duplicates, with four people signing it as many as 10 times and 18,767 people signing it twice, Pirich said.

As well as filing a challenge with the Bureau of Elections at the Secretary of State, the group has asked the Attorney General’s Office to investigate possible violations of state law.

The panel that will decide the fate of the ballot initiative is expected to meet on November 5th.

Chris Fisher, Vice President of Protect Michigan Taxpayers and not-so-coincidentally President of the anti-union Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan, said that his group will continue fighting until it’s clear to everyone that they’re lying:

“We are going to stand up for the nearly 400,000 men and women who exercised their right to petition their government, absolutely.  We’re not surprised that they filed a challenge. The only thing that would surprise us is if the Board of Canvassers did not approve those signatures.”

Fisher labeled the signature challenge as a “”union attempt to disenfranchise registered voters who signed petitions that his group put out into the field.”

Bart Carrigan, a co-chair of Protect Michigan Jobs and President and CEO of the Associated General Contractors of Michigan, called on the Board of State Canvassers to move quickly to dismiss the petitions:

“Eliminating prevailing wage to cut wages and benefits of hard-working skilled tradesmen and women in our state hurt the Michigan economy, aggravating current worker shortages in the industry and discouraging young people from entering these valuable professions.  Let’s end this attack on skilled trade workers and the companies who hire them as quickly as possible, so we can focus on building a better Michigan.”

Pat Devlin, another co-chair of Protect Michigan Jobs and the Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, said he was not surprised to find so few valid signatures:

“Polling shows the vast majority of state voters are opposed to ending these policies that help working men and women and ensure quality, safe construction of public buildings. I would hope Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette would investigate and hold accountable all who have participated in this scheme, from the out-of-state collectors to those managing this devious campaign.”

Here is a brief history of the effort to repeal Michigan’s prevailing wage:

2014

November 4th — Gov. Rick Snyder is reelected.  Republicans take control of both the House and Senate.  Arlan Meekhof rises to majority leader.  Rumors of a prevailing wage attempt immediately begin.

November 13th — Speculation begins that Republicans could trade road funding for prevailing wage repeal.

2015

January 15th — Senate announces that the first three bills in the new legislative year will be a repeal of the prevailing wage.

January  21st — Gov. Snyder reaffirms that he will veto any attempt to repeal the prevailing wage.

January 23rd -Associated Builders and Contractors and Mackinac Center say that if the Governor will veto the series of bills they will use the state constitution to circumvent Snyder and place the issue on the 2016 ballot.

May 13th — Michigan Republicans begin prevailing wage hearings at the objection of Gov. Snyder

May 18th — Michigan Senate passes prevailing wage repeal despite Republican defectors.

June — A poll is released showing that likely voters support the prevailing wage by a 2 to 1 margin.

July — A study is released that finds that a prevailing wage repeal would cost Michigan 11,000 jobs, $1.7 billion in GDP, and $700 million in investments.

August 24 — Legislature adjourns without a infrastructure deal partially due to the GOP’s prevailing wage repeal attempt.

September — Reports come out that signatures were being collected for the prevailing wage ballot initiative under false pretenses.

September — Protect Michigan Taxpayers submit nearly 390,000 signatures as part of their ballot initiative attempt.

October 26th: Protect Michigan Jobs announces that along with the 117,391 disallowed signatures by the state, another 49,000 are duplicates placing Protect Michigan Taxpayers “woefully short” of the amount needed for a ballot initiative.

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