August 9, 2020

Inman Must Step Down

Aug. 17, 2019

A lot has been said about the charges that the United States of America has made against State Representative Larry Inman. Charges of fraud, extortion, and lying to the FBI. There have been calls for Mr. Inman to step down from his seat representing Michigan’s 104thDistrict, which is all of Grand Traverse County. These calls have come not only from the public and the Democratic opposition but also from Mr. Inman’s own party at both the state and local levels.
Since being charged, Mr. Inman has announced that he has a problem with opioid addiction and he’s seeking treatment. Inman’s attorney, Chris Cooke, has submitted court documents stating that, in Mr. Inman’s defense, he plans to submit expert testimony and evidence of diminished cognitive capacity. Yet in these documents Mr. Inman tries to have it both ways. He said he only took opioids as prescribed, but then he goes on to say that it materially affected his judgment. So this opioid addiction is apparently based on Mr. Inman’s taking legally prescribed medication that clouded his judgment just enough so that he’s not responsible for his actions —but not so much that he broke any laws.
There are those that say that Mr. Inman is innocent until proven guilty. They say that we should wait and see how his court case turns out. And now that Inman is claiming opioid addiction as a defense, there are those that say that that is enough of a reason for us to wait and see.
What are we to make of all this? Shall we just press “pause” on the calls for him to step down and wait until the court decides his fate? And for good measure, shall we see how his opioid rehab turns out as well? Not in my opinion. We have to consider both the practical effects on the people of the 104thDistrict, as well as the less-tangible but ever so real effects of Mr. Inman’s character on the district, the state legislature and Michigan’s political system.  Mr. Inman needs to step down. Now.
Let’s break this down:

We know that Mr. Inman has been charged by the United States of America with three felony counts.A federal judge recently denied a motion to dismiss one of the charges but put on hold two others pending his written opinion.The FBI is very methodical, and they don’t like to lose in court. It’s safe to say that they feel they have a strong case. Is he guilty? Of course not, there’s been no trial, no verdict.  Maybe he’s innocent. But one doesn’thave to be a felon in order to have committed corrupt conduct in office, which is one of the criteria for removal from office in Michigan. The issue is more about corruption than it is about law-breaking.
We know that Larry Inman has solicited dark money, apparently in exchange for his vote on a bill.In the charging documents there are total of three text messages from Inman to a union lobbyist and a union official. Mr. Inman hasn’t disputed that he sent these messages. Two of these messages remind these union people that a total of $360,000 in campaign contributions had been promised but didn’t materialize. Both of these messages conclude with this: “We never had this discussion.” And the third message is a reminder to bring checks to a breakfast meeting.
We know that Larry Inman only took opioids as prescribed, at least if his court filing is to be believed. Mr. Inman wasn’t shooting up, wasn’t snorting, wasn’t stealing drugs or money, but still he would have us believe that his addiction to prescribed doses of opioids was so bad that he couldn’t exercise proper judgment. Well maybe so, but one wonders if he isn’t able to make good decisions while taking legally prescribed medication, then would he make better decisions if he stopped?
We know that Larry Inman is not supported by his own party, and he is not representing his constituents.He’s been kicked out of the House Republican Caucus, he has lost his committee assignments, he has missed dozens of votes, his staff are no longer providing constituent services, the Grand Traverse County Republicans have called for him to resign, and there has been a joint Michigan House resolution urging him to step down.  
In my opinion, a Michigan legislator who has been charged with three counts of federal felonies related to his conduct while in office, who has not disputed the basic facts of the matter, who has been kicked out of his own party’s caucus and who intends to use the taking of legally prescribed medication as his reason for exercising bad judgment should step down.
Mr. Inman, give us back our representation. Give us back our respect for the office. Let us move on. Step down now.
John DeSpelder worked in the public sector for 40 years, most of them as director of a large state office based in northern Michigan. After retirement, he served as a staff trainer and an authorized representative for Medicaid appeals. He writes from Traverse City.


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