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Michigan Redistricting Commissioners Refuse to Investigate Themselves … Now what?

Updated: 4 days ago


By Kristine Christlieb | February 14, 2024

Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) scuttled a previously scheduled hearing to investigate one of its members.

 

In a nine-to-three roll call vote on February 8, the citizen Commissioners declined to go forward with a hearing that would have examined evidence detailed in an official Notice to Vacate which claims to show Commissioner Anthony Eid’s “substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office.”

 

Commissioner Rhonda Lange told Michigan Fair Elections, “I was disappointed the Commission didn’t look into all the information submitted and do its own due diligence.”

 

Instead, commissioners voted overwhelmingly not to go forward with a hearing they had previously scheduled for that day.

 

Change of Procedure Blocks Scheduled Hearing


After the hearing was scheduled in mid-January for February 8, in a subsequent meeting, commissioners voted to change the rules.

 

Previously, if a notice to vacate was submitted and a response given, a hearing was automatically scheduled. Commissioners changed the rules so that a vote was required before a hearing could be scheduled. They then used the new rule to void the already-scheduled hearing and to call for a vote on whether there should be a hearing.

 

In the public comment section of the Thursday meeting, several citizens urged the Commission to hold the hearing as scheduled.

 

The vote on the motion to go forward with the hearing produced the following results:

Elaine Andrade

Democrat

no

Donna Callaghan

Democrat

no

Juanita Curry

Democrat

no

Brittni Kellom

Democrat

no

Anthony Eid

Neutral

Not allowed to vote

Steven Lett

Neutral

no

Rebecca Szetela

Neutral

yes

Janice Vallette

Neutral

no

Richard Weiss

Neutral

no

Rhonda Lange

Republican

yes

Marcus Muldoon

Republican

no

Cynthia Orton

Republican

no

Erin Wagner

Republican

yes

 

 Eid’s Influence on Mapping Questioned


The Commission, created by a 2018 amendment to the Michigan Constitution, is composed of four Republicans, four Democrats and 5 neutrals.

 

The possibility of a hearing grew out of questions about Mr. Eid’s conflicts of interest.

 

In their notice to vacate Eid’s position, Commissioners Szetele and Lange, outlined their concerns.  According to their notice, “there is evidence that one commissioner [Eid] … has abused his position to draw districts to benefit at least two of his friends who were running for office.”

 

The notice then says that these actions warrant declaring “Eid’s position as a Commissioner vacant.”

 

The first district in question involved Eid’s hometown of Orchard Lake and his friend Noah Arbit, who was running for a State House seat. In 2021 while district mapping was getting underway, Arbit told Jewish Insider, “Redistricting is really the end-all-be-all for my path to victory.”

 

Eid’s critics claim he promoted a redrawn map for the area supplied by Arbit. Social media photos show Eid and Arbit at one of the candidate’s fundraisers, where, typically, there is no free entry. Eid would have either paid to attend or been given a ticket with a dollar value.

 

In his response to the Notice to Vacate, Eid claims former Commissioner Dustin Witjes (Democrat) “took the lead in drafting the district [20]” map but then later said, “It is my belief that every Commissioner contributed to the creation of every district.”

 

Witjes was forced into submitting his resignation from the Commission when it was discovered he had been living and working in Illinois for more than a year but was still drawing his paycheck as a Michigan citizen of the Commission. Commissioners are paid $746.63 per week or an annualized salary of $38,824.76.

 

In pointing out that two commissioners were living out-of-state (Witjes and now deceased Doug Clark-Republican), Commissioner Szetele expressed concern that the participation of these non-residents on the “citizens” commission could become a legal issue in the ongoing federal litigation challenging the maps racial quotas.

 

In the live chat for Thursday’s meeting, questions arose as to a potential business consulting relationship between Mr. Eid and former Commissioner Witjes who participated in the chat under the online name Dr. Logistik.

 

CMill asked Dr. Logistik [Witjes]: “In fact, didn’t you email each other about starting a redistricting consulting business together after this was over?”

 

Dr. Logistik [Witjes]: “e-mail. no. But I did say he is welcome to be a partner if it is indeed something I start.”

 

CMill pressed Witjes, reminding him emails capturing these discussions had been made public through a Freedom Of Information Act request.

 

CMill: “actually, based on the FOIA’d emails, you did in fact email each other about starting a business.”

 

If, as Eid claims, Witjes did take the lead in redrawing Michigan House District 20 and if the two men are considering forming a business relationship, there is the potential appearance Witjes was acting as Eid’s proxy in redrawing the district in a way favorable to Arbit, who now serves as Democrat Representative for Michigan House District 20.

 

A similar set of circumstances played out in House District 15, where Commissioners Szetele and Lange claim, “The evidence also shows that Mr. Eid either intentionally, with neglect, or with gross negligence drafted House District 15 to benefit his friend and political candidate Bilal Hammoud, in violation of his Constitutional obligations.”

 

Eid’s Conflict of Interest Employment … TWICE


According to the Notice to Vacate, the nonprofit Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote Michigan (APIAVoteMI) was regularly involved in MICRC’s weekly map-drawing sessions. Later APIAVoteMI joined the League of Women Voters in a lawsuit filed in February 2022 against MICRC.

 

In the same month, Eid accepted employment doing policy research for APIA and did not inform the Commission’s Executive Director as required. When his employment became known and identified as a conflict of interest, he was forced to resign from APIA, writing to Commissioners, “I should have given more thought into how you as my colleagues would feel about this before accepting the position, and own up to the mistake.”

 

According to InfluenceWatch, APIA is “a left-of-center voter turnout non-profit organization that receives financial support from leading left-of-center grant makers like the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and NEO Philanthropy.”

 

Problems with Eid’s employment arose again when he took a position with another non-profit Michigan Voices, which, like APIA, had been involved in lobbying MICRC.

 

Here’s the lede from a July 2023 article published in The Detroit News: “A Michigan redistricting commissioner has resigned from his position with an advocacy group that had prompted concerns about potential conflicts of interest, marking the second time in two years he’s quit a job with an entity that sought to influence the mapmaking process.”

 

While there is the obvious conflict of interest problem, Eid, who claims to be “neutral,” once again sought employment with a left-leaning, get-out-the-vote nonprofit.

 

InfluenceWatch describes Michigan Voices as a “left-leaning voter mobilization group that coordinates the efforts of other left-leaning activist groups in Michigan. The group is part of the nationwide coalition State Voices, which organizes state-based political advocacy groups.”

 

Also, in the February 8 Live Chat, CMill refers to Eid derogatorily, saying: “[Eid] has been pimping himself out to every redistricting media/conference opportunity possible – because he wants a job.”

 

Eid’s Questionable Character


Eid’s LinkedIn profile says he “hopes to become an Orthopedic surgeon one day,” a hope that might be described as the dictionary definition of wishful thinking. After two years of medical school, Eid was dismissed from Wayne State University’s (WSU) School of Medicine “based on his professionalism actions and lack of integrity.”

 

According to court documents, Eid was dismissed after admitting he had:

  • Sent deceptive messages to a freshman undergraduate

  • Sought passwords to the student’s online accounts

  • Falsely claimed he was in contact with and had received information from Apple Support

  • Threatened to report the student if she didn’t comply with his demands

  • Threatened to have his attorney file a lawsuit against her

 

Despite saying he took “full responsibility” for sending the deceptive messages, admitting he “stretched the truth” and “lied to [the student] about many things,” Eid filed an Amended Complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in 2021 against the School of Medicine, alleging violation of due process, equal protections rights, and several other common law claims. The case was dismissed, but Eid appealed. On appeal, the court upheld the original dismissal of Eid's lawsuit.

 

In an apology that he asked to be placed in his Medical School file, Eid wrote: “This represents a major character flaw that I know I feel terribly about. I promise that I will be working on myself to fix this flaw, through deep self-reflection and perhaps professional help if deemed necessary.”

 

During its deliberations, the School of Medicine’s Professionalism Committee admitted it was troubled by the “inconsistencies in [Plaintiff’s] written statements between his purported acknowledgment of wrongdoing and his assertions that it did not bear on his fitness to be a doctor.”

 

Eid Credibility Questioned by Other Judges


When the redistricting maps MICRC drew were challenged in federal court for being race-based, Eid was the first witness called to testify.

 

According to Clara Hendrickson’s November 2023 reporting for the Detroit Free Press, Eid vehemently disagreed that across-the-board, the commission rigorously adhered to a target share of Black voters.

 

Hendrickson wrote: “Asked by a lawyer for the redistricting commission whether the new districts have performed for minorities, Eid took off his glasses as he sat on the witness stand. Minorities have more power in Lansing today than they have in decades," Eid said.

 

The three-judge panel wasn’t buying any of it. In their decision, they wrote, “Eid’s testimony as to racial predominance, however, was palpably rote and rehearsed.”

 

Despite taking his glasses off in a gesture of sincerity, the judge went on to say Eid’s testimony was “by turns implausible and evasive, in demeanor and substance alike, Eid was not a credible witness.”

This clip gives you a good idea of what Eid is like.  Did he take the stipend from Common Cause or not? He's defiant and evasive.


IN: 2:51:05  "I'm just curious ...

OUT:2:52:24 ... I think you heard my answer."


In summary, Wayne State University’s School of Medicine had to dismiss Eid for lack of integrity. He failed to report employment that posed a conflict of interest with the Commission’s work. Three federal judges determined Eid's testimony not credible. But when three of Eid's MICRC commissioner colleagues asked that his activities in connection with redistricting be investigated, the body of the so-called Michigan Independent Citizen Redistricting Commission declined to examine the evidence.

 

Some of these same commissioners, including Eid, also made a push during Thursday's meeting to give themselves a pay raise. In a brief flash of clarity, the majority of commissioners voted against that motion.


 **********


Kristine Christlieb volunteers for Michigan Fair Elections and serves on MFE's communications team. She publishes Trust but Verify on Substack. https://open.substack.com/pub/trustbutverifyreport/p/voter-registration-blitzkrieg?r=2haa2x&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

 

 

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WANTED: Poll Challengers and Election Inspectors


Pure Integrity Michigan Elections (PIME) is renewing its participation in the statewide Election Protection Team to make sure cities and towns across the Mitten State have an equal partisan balance of election inspectors and poll challengers, as the law requires.


If you are interested in becoming an election inspector or poll challenger, fill out the form at: www.electionprotectionteam.com/MI. Once you sign up, you will be emailed a list of poll challenger trainings.


All poll challengers must attend at least one training to be placed at a location in 2024.  To register, click on one of the Training Schedule links below. If you cannot attend one of these training sessions, more will be scheduled for February.

Virtual (Zoom) Training Schedule

  • Wednesday, February 14th at 7:00 PM (RSVP here)

  • Thursday, February 15th at 11:00 AM (RSVP here)

  • Monday, February 19th at 1:00 PM (RSVP here

  • Wednesday, February 21 at 7:00 PM (RSVP here

  • Monday, February 26 at 1:00 PM (RSVP here)

 

Mark your calendars to attend Election Integrity Network's outstanding national working groups. Consider also serving as liaison to report to MFE's Task Force Coalition on our Thursday meetings.  

  • Citizen Research Project | Ned Jones, EIN

  • Every Tuesday at 6 p.m. (ET)

  • Election Technology | Jim Womack, NCEIT

  • Every 2nd and 4th Thursday at 4 p.m. (ET)

  • Introduction to Election Integrity Infrastructure | Kerri Toloczko and Ned Jones, EIN

  • Every 2nd and 4th Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET)

  • Vote By Mail / USPS | Ned Jones, EIN

  • Every 1st and 3rd Tuesday at 4 p.m. (ET)

  • Legislative Development | Kathleen Harms, TN

  • Every Wednesday at 2 p.m. (ET)

  • Voter Roll Maintenance | Willard Helander, EIN

  • Every Wednesday at 4 p.m. (ET)

  • Vulnerable Voters | Kerri Toloczko, EIN

  • Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday at 4 p.m. (ET)

  • Every 1st Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET)

  • Election Audits | Mike Raisch

  • Every 1st and 3rd Thursday at 4 p.m. (ET)

  • Building Local Task Forces | Joshua Taylor

  • Every 2nd and 4th Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET)

  • Media Training | Kerri Toloczko

  • Every 1st Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET)


 

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Michigan Fair Elections. Artificial intelligence may have been used in the creation of this message or in the links referenced herein.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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