This is a column, a blog post (below), that I wrote on Election Day in November 2014 about Steve Marino, the lobbyist and state House candidate who was exposed this week for bragging about paying off big bar tabs for legislators. Marino, a Harrison Township Republican who serves as a Macomb County commissioner, was also caught on tape claiming that he has run a scam to avoid paying the full amount of property taxes on his home.
In response to a Detroit Free Press story about the tapes, Marino, 27, essentially said that he had made it all up. He was telling tall tales about the Lansing lifestyle. As the Eclectablog website put it, the tape recordings, secretly made by a Democratic operative at a gathering of the commissioner’s constituents, show that Marino is either “a sleazy lobbyist, a tax cheat, or an unmitigated liar. Or maybe all of the above.”
Another label would be Sergeant-At-Arms. After winning election in 2014, Marino — though he had no experience in government — was elected by the Board of Commissioners in January 2015 as their Sergeant-At-Arms. That’s the guy who is supposed to keep everything orderly and proper during meetings of the Board of Commissioners. Steve Marino – enforcer of integrity in Macomb County government.
This piece from Nov. 4, 2014, shows the strange and shameless path that Marino followed on his way to winning office:
GOP candidate brings foe’s dead wife into campaign mix
Steve Marino, a 25-year-old first-time candidate who showed minimal interest in politics prior to 2014, has waded into dark territory by emphasizing the personal bankruptcy suffered by his opponent on today’s ballot — incumbent Democratic county Commissioner Mike Boyle of St. Clair Shores.
When a Macomb Daily story about the county commissioner races published last week did not mention Boyle’s bankruptcy, Marino, a Harrison Township Republican, called the newspaper (more than once) to complain and tried to get his supporters to do the same.
What Marino doesn’t mention is that Boyle’s bankruptcy, which occurred nearly a decade ago, came after his wife died suddenly of a heart attack.
According to Democratic sources, Boyle, a bus mechanic, was stuck with a pile of medical bills and debts related to his wife’s suddenly shuttered small business.
Marino seems to think this is all fair game in the political arena.
This rookie politician is one of those odd ducks who runs for office for, well, God knows what reason.
Since he first became a registered voter in 2008, Marino has cast a ballot in just three of 13 elections – a 23 percent turnout rate.
Among the elections he missed was the August primary and November general election during the presidential year of 2008; the November 2009 vote on the Macomb County charter; the August and November elections of 2010; and the presidential primary election of 2012.
The candidate explained that he was away, at Michigan State University earning a couple of degrees, from 2007-12. Apparently, he has never heard of an absentee ballot.
Though he obviously gave little thought to politics in the past, the young challenger is now all in. He has outspent the incumbent by a massive margin, $48,000 to $3,700, with nearly $44,000 in his war chest consisting of his “own” money.
Marino apparently lives with his parents and runs a one-man business out of their home as a campaign finance consultant.
Yet, his own campaign made a very basic error a couple of weeks ago by filing his latest campaign finance report five days late. He was assessed a $75 fine by the county.
Marino blames the blunder on the post office. His election camp complains that Boyle, a former St. Clair Shores city councilman, also has a trail of filing errors. But those consist of minor mistakes on the commissioner’s finance documents.
Here’s the key fact surrounding Marino’s inability to follow the rules: His specialty as a consultant is aiding political candidates with filing their campaign’s financial paperwork.
Marino is certainly a candidate with a certain number of strikes against him. But there’s more.
How did he win the GOP nomination in the 10th District (Harrison Township and a portion of St. Clair Shores)? Well, his opponent in the August primary died prior to the election.
In fact, the other Republican candidate passed away in June — in time for county officials to keep his name off the ballot.
That was probably good news for Marino. Otherwise, he might have lost to the dead guy.