Two people who worked for former Michigan House leader are charged with financial crimes

Two people who worked for former Michigan House leader are charged with financial crimes

Former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield speaks with reporters in 2019. (AP Photo/David Eggert)

By Associated Press

December 22, 2023

LANSING—Two people who had close ties to a powerful Republican lawmaker when he ran the Michigan House were charged Thursday with a raft of financial crimes, including embezzlement from nonprofit funds created for political purposes.

The charges against Rob and Anne Minard rose from an ongoing investigation of former House Speaker Lee Chatfield, Attorney General Dana Nessel said at a news conference.

Rob Minard was Chatfield’s chief of staff in 2019 to 2020 while his wife, Anne Minard, was director of external affairs. They also ran a side business, Victor Strategies, a political strategy and fundraising firm.

Nessel said the Minards misappropriated at least $525,000 from three nonprofit political funds connected to Chatfield and a political action committee.

“They are Lansing power brokers,” she said.

The Minards, who will appear in court on Jan. 3, were charged with conducting a criminal enterprise, conspiracy, embezzlement, false pretenses and a tax crime. Their Lansing-area home was raided in search of documents last February.

Rob Minard’s attorney, Bob Harrison, said he hadn’t seen the charges yet but promised a vigorous defense.

“In my conversations with the government before this date, the things that were mentioned are all defensible. We’re talking about things that any campaign does every day,” Harrison said.

Anne Minard’s attorney, Gerry Gleeson, said he wants to see the facts in court, not allegations.

“These types of nonprofits are not giving charitable gifts to sick children,” said Nessel, a Democrat, who described them as “conduits of dark money.”

She said the Minards “exploited and defrauded” the funds through double billing, improper reimbursement and falsifying records.

Nessel said the political funds are not required to publicly disclose their donors.

“Michigan residents deserve more,” she said. “They deserve better than what this flawed system has allowed.”

Chatfield, who is no longer a state lawmaker, has been under investigation by authorities since his sister-in-law said he sexually assaulted her. Chatfield has denied the allegations and said they had a consensual affair.

Nessel repeatedly emphasized Thursday that all aspects of the Chatfield investigation remained open.

“I do anticipate meeting you all here again in the next few months with further charging decisions,” the attorney general told reporters.

READ MORE: Former GOP House Speaker Lee Chatfield accused of sexual assault by sister-in-law


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