EAST LANSING-Secretary of State candidate Ruth Johnson today discussed her record of cutting government spending, rooting out waste and fraud, and using small-business practices to implement innovative reforms in a statewide, televised debate. The debate was taped this morning on the campus of Michigan State University and moderated by WKAR's senior capitol correspondent Tim Skubick.
During the debate, Johnson pointed to her record of accomplishment, including her role as Oakland County Clerk where she cut 20% of her staff while still receiving 14 national awards for efficient government service.
Johnson also called on her opponent, Jocelyn Benson, to disclose to voters what she knew about and what role she or her staff might have played in the fake tea party scandal, and how George Soros and out-of-state activists trying to influence the Secretary of State's office through the Benson campaign.
"As a reformer, I have a record of rooting out waste and fraud, like I did exposing the fake Tea Party scandal," said Johnson. "My opponent needs to come clean with voters and tell them what she knew about the fake tea party scandal and when she knew it."
In September 2010, the Detroit Free Press published an in-depth report pointing out connections linking Democratic operatives Mike McGuinness and Jason Bauer to the fake Tea Party.
The Free Press also cited that Mike McGuinness worked directly for the Benson campaign in 2010, where he was paid $8,351.88 this year. McGuinness additionally gave three contributions to the Benson campaign totaling $625.
McGuinness was identified by the Detroit Free Press as recruiting his stepmother to run as a candidate for state representative for the fake Tea Party and resigned as chairman of the Oakland County Democratic party in August 2010 in light of the fake Tea Party scandal.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Benson supporter and donor Jason Bauer is under criminal investigation by the Oakland County Sheriff and a grand jury proceeding for his role in the fake Tea Party scandal.
The Free Press reports that Bauer donated $100 to the Benson campaign in 2010.
The Detroit Free Press also said that Bauer acted as notary for 12 of the 23 affidavits for fake Tea Party candidate petitions, with at least one candidate claiming he did not sign the petition that Bauer notarized.
Bauer, the former Operations Director for the Oakland County Democratic Party and Mike McGuinness's roommate and political ally, has been the prime suspect in a grand jury proceeding and criminal investigation for his role in recruiting fake Tea Party candidates and signing affidavits according to the Free Press.
Bauer was suspended from his job at the county party a year earlier for directing interns to submit false letters to Republicans on the Oakland County Commission.
Both Bauer and McGuinness resigned their roles with the Oakland County Democrats in August as a result of the fake Tea Party scandal.
The Johnson campaign has called on Benson to refund contributions by Bauer and McGuinness but Benson has refused to do so.
Benson also has refused to disclose any knowledge of work McGuinness did involving the fake Tea Party while McGuinness was working for the Benson campaign.
"I have a record of running fair elections and working with Democrats and Republicans to ensure voter integrity," said Johnson. "My opponent needs to disclose any ties she has to the prime suspects in the fake Tea Party scandal and any knowledge of the deceptive actions.
"These connections and Jocelyn Benson's unwillingness to be straight with voters raises serious credibility questions about Benson's knowledge of the fake Tea Party scandal," stated Ruth Johnson.
"Voters deserve to know from Ms. Benson what she knows about the fake Tea Party scandal and when she knew it. This is essential if Benson, with so little experience in Michigan, wants to be the chief elections officer."
In August 2010, Ruth Johnson released information citing proof of deception and alleged fraud for the fake Tea Party.
An Oakland County Sheriff probe immediately followed which resulted in the opening of a grand jury proceeding where Bauer and McGuiness are the prime suspects in the deceptive activities.
Additionally, the Johnson campaign questioned Benson on the role of George Soros and out-of- state liberal interest groups. George Soros's Secretary of State Project has contributed thousands of dollars to Benson's campaign. Benson has also accepted over $130,000 in out-of-state contributions to her campaign including the Secretary of State Project. The Secretary of State's Project requires candidates to support implementing same-day registration and elimination of photo identification.
"Voters are questioning the influence George Soros and liberal interest groups are having on Benson's campaign. George Soros and out-of-state liberal interest groups have attempted to literally buy the Secretary of State's office to implement procedures that open the election process up to possible fraud. Procedures like same-day registration and elimination of photo identification which open the potential of fraud."
Ruth Johnson has served as the Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds since 2005. In that role, Ruth cut more than $1 million in costs and reduced her staff by 20 percent. While reducing the size and cost of government, Ruth's office also implemented innovative reforms that have resulted in fourteen national awards for making government more efficient and convenient for taxpayers.