Michigan AG Schuette says town halls are “political sandbox games”

Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images


Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley has called a series of town halls to give the four highest polling Republican candidates for governor an opportunity to discuss their plans with voters. But Attorney General Bill Schuette, currently in the lead, used an interview on the Frank Beckman Show to say that the town hall invitation amounted to “political gimmickry.” This is only the latest in a series of attacks traded back and forth between the two GOP frontrunners.

Schuette leads the Republican field in the polls and, currently, in fundraising. It’s that lead, he told Beckman, that prompted Calley’s town hall idea. “This was basically a secret alliance of my three opponents,” said Schuette. “Because I’m ahead and they’re desperate.” Schuette said he thinks that discussions among the candidates and with the voters can wait “until the campaign” — even though all the candidates are currently campaigning, including Schuette, who announced in September.

Moreover, the AG seems to view town halls in general in a bad light. “Having a political pact in cahoots and colluding on this is really political sandbox games, and my mom used to say when there was a fact out there, ‘This is plain as the nose on your face,’ and you know what, this is plain on the nose of your face, this is political gimmickry.”

Schuette takes a similarly dismissive attitude towards openness with voters when it comes to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The Attorney General is currently being sued for non-compliance with FOIA requests.

While Calley’s town hall invitations may well have been sent in the hopes of getting himself in front of more voters before the Republican primary, more contact between Michigan’s candidates and elected officials and its voters could only be a positive change. The state was ranked worst in the nation for transparency by the Center for Public Integrity, and hasn’t made much progress since.