MSP concludes investigation of alleged election irregularities in August 2020 primary

Former Flint Township Clerk subject of investigation

Kathy Funk

Kathy Funk

FLINT TWP. — Former Township Clerk Kathy Funk is at the center of a Michigan State Police investigation into alleged election irregularities in the August 2020 primary.

Shortly after the New Year’s Day, MSP completed an investigation into a complaint of vote tampering during Flint Township’s 2020 August election and submitted a warrant request package to the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office.

The investigation involves Funk, who was overseeing the election as clerk and running for re-election.

Funk, who resigned as township clerk on Nov. 22, now serves as the county’s elections supervisor. She has declined to comment about the MSP investigation.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton has recused himself from the case and requested Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to assign the investigation to another prosecutor. Leyton cited a potential conflict of interest because Funk is a county employee and because he and one of his assistants was mentioned by Funk in the documents he received from MSP.

No charges have been issued against Funk, and the warrant request sent to the county prosecutor’s office is standard procedure and not an indication of criminal misconduct, according to the state police.

During the 2020 August primary, Funk narrowly defeated challenger Manya Triplett in the clerk’s race by a count of 2,698 votes to 2,619.

Shortly after the August 2020 election, Funk filed a report with the Flint Township Police Department, stating a break-in had occurred at the township’s election office and that a seal on a canister containing ballots had been broken.

Flint Township Police then sent the case to MSP for further investigation.

Triplett, who was appointed as clerk by the township board in November, said she sought a recount of the August 2020 race, but her request was denied by Funk, who told her that a recount couldn’t be conducted because of the alleged break-in and the breaking of the seal on the vote canister.

Triplett then filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to review spoiled ballots and other information. That request was also denied by Funk.

“When I found out there was a ‘break-in’ and the issue with the seal on the canister, I knew that was to keep me from asking for a recount,” Triplett said.

Flint Township Supervisor Karyn Miller said according to Funk, a shelf in the township clerk’s election office fell on a bag of ballots, causing the seal to break on one of the canisters in the bag.

Miller said she also had concerns about how the primary election was handled, specifically with the moving of absentee ballots. Due to the high volume of absentee votes received in the 2020 primary, Funk had arranged for those ballots to be counted off-site at Randels Elementary School.

However, Miller said Funk didn’t notify the township about where she would be setting up the absentee counting board.

“It was unusual that she would wait until the last minute to set up a space at the school,” Miller said. “She planned it but didn’t tell anybody what she was doing, and it was not approved by the election commission.”

Miller also said she confronted Funk about multiple accounts of unusual activity at the clerk’s office around the election, such as reports Funk had covered the window to her office after the election and that Funk was in the office alone with unsecured ballots after business hours.

“I received several calls that the clerk was in the office alone with all the absentee ballots and that her husband was in there with her,” Miller said. “I was not the only one who had concerns.”

Despite the MSP investigation, Genesee County Clerk-Register John Gleason said he expects Funk will continue as elections supervisor for the county.

“She came highly recommended, and we’ve had nothing but accolades on her hiring,” he said. “Many of the municipal clerks are excited about her getting this job.”

Although Funk’s position is in the county elections department, Gleason said her hiring was handled through the county and he didn’t interview her for the job.

He also described the allegations against Funk as “Flint Township politics.”

“It’s important to remember that she has not been charged with anything,” he said. “These are just the preliminary steps of an investigation.”