In his run for governor, Attorney General Bill Schuette has touted an endorsement from an official who he suspended after an in internal investigation of Probate Court scams where AG-appointed attorneys allegedly milked estates for thousands of dollars.
The endorsement by attorney Cecil St. Pierre remains listed on the Schuette campaign website though the AG suspended St. Pierre indefinitely in his role as a Probate Court “public administrator” last May. St. Pierre, the Warren City Council president, sent a letter of resignation a few weeks later.
Earlier this week Schuette said that the public administrators accused of suspicious activities had been “terminated.”
The AG’s remark came as he applauded legislation signed into law that will reform the public administrator process.
“By creating a clear, current and direct path for public administrators to follow in the probate process we can better protect Michigan citizens and weed out any bad actors’” the Republican attorney general said in a press release on Tuesday.
The endorsement was first included on the Schuette campaign site in December, referring to St. Pierre in his role as chairman of the 9th Congressional District Republicans. That listing came six months after Schuette suspended St. Pierre and three months after the AG’s office worked with legislators on the wording of the reform legislation.
As the AG’s appointed public administrator for Macomb County Probate Court, St. Pierre had the power to take control of an estate when no heirs came forward to claim the deceased’s home or assets. St. Pierre teamed up with this longtime friend, real estate broker Ralph Roberts, to bill the estates for thousands of dollars in fees, plus Roberts received real estate commissions when he sold the homes, according a story first reported by WXYZ-TV in Detroit.
St. Pierre and Roberts insist they have done nothing wrong.
Progress Michigan, a liberal activist group, pointed out the strange political endorsement in a press release earlier today.
“Schuette needs to … denounce this endorsement if he’s serious about weeding out ‘bad actors.’ He can’t lambast someone in one breath and then celebrate their endorsement in the next,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Schuette is so blinded by his own political ambitions that he’s accepted the endorsement of someone who allegedly ripped off families in Oakland and Macomb.”
News of the endorsement comes after former governor and current Michigan State University Interim President John Engler asked to be pulled from Schuette’s endorsement list. Schuette complied with the request, which came after Engler expressed concerns that the AG was politicizing his investigation of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal at MSU.
Engler, through a spokesman, said he won’t be involved in election-year politics, which prompted Scott to call on the AG to return $5,000 in campaign contributions Schuette received from Engler and his wife last year.
One additional odd Schuette campaign item surfaced recently when his team reported that they indirectly are paying for services provided by John Yob. Yob is the campaign consultant for Schuette’s main GOP opponent in the gubernatorial race, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.
According to Schuette’s latest campaign finance report filed with the state Bureau of Elections, he used a suburban Washington firm to make an $86,000 payment for online campaign ads placed on a website owned by Yob called the Conservative Connector.