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MI lawmaker indicted on bribery charge back in Lansing, says treatment saved him

Posted: 12:34 PM, Sep 04, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-04 12:34:12-04
MI lawmaker indicted on bribery charge back in Lansing, says treatment saved him

Days after his colleagues formally demanded his resignation, a Michigan lawmaker under federal indictment returned to the Legislature for the first time in months Tuesday, saying his treatment for an addiction to painkillers probably saved his life.

Rep. Larry Inman, a Williamsburg Republican, is accused of seeking campaign money from a labor union in exchange for favorable votes on wage legislation. He said he finished 11 weeks of treatment several days ago, has no plan to step down and people in his Traverse City-area district are behind him.

"I feel great. My brain is clear. I can think really good, and I'm really happy with the results of going through that treatment," Inman told reporters. "I really wanted to come back and continue to represent the citizens of the 104th (District), Grand Traverse County, and continue to be a member of the House of Representatives and fulfill my term until the end of next year. That is my goal."

The indictment by a grand jury in May revealed text messages sent last year by Inman to two people affiliated with the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, a group that had supported him. He urged them to round up campaign contributions from other unions to win the votes of legislators who were under pressure from Republican leaders to repeal a law that guaranteed higher wages for workers on state-financed construction projects.

Inman said Tuesday he did "nothing wrong" and lawmakers should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. He declined to discuss the case in detail, citing advice from his attorney, Christopher Cooke.

In June, Cooke gave notice of his intention to present evidence that Inman's "diminished cognitive ability" potentially has bearing on whether he had the requisite mental state required for being charged with attempted extortion, bribery and lying to an FBI agent.

Asked how long he was addicted to opioids before being treated, Inman said the timeline is being evaluated but that he had had five surgeries over a two-year period and almost died twice. The medicines were prescribed by his physician, he said.

Inman said he hopes to work with legislators to propose "groundbreaking" opioid-related legislation to ensure people can be treated and "have an avenue back to their life."

He said going through five weeks of detox and six weeks of in-patient treatment "probably saved my life. ... It's time for this Legislature to be compassionate and understanding for people that have gone through an addiction and recovery. It's just like any other illness."

Inman is no longer allowed inside his Lansing office. His staffers report to the House Business Office. He also has been prohibited from sitting on committees and participating in Republican caucus meetings, though he said he may ask GOP House Speaker Lee Chatfield to reassess his status.

A recall effort against Inman is underway. Democrats in July also began circulating cards that people can mail to him demanding his resignation.

He said he was expecting to get an "avalanche" of postcards but had received only eight as of this past weekend.

Gideon D'Assandro, the spokesman for Chatfield, said Chatfield and House Democratic Leader Christine Greig waited until last week to hold a vote on the resignation resolution so he could finish his treatment. It passed 98-8 and could lead to expulsion proceedings if Inman refuses to step down.

"It's good that that worked out," D'Assandro said of the treatment. "But at the same time, for the good of the people that he represents and the people of the state of Michigan and the institution, he should now step down. Do the right thing."