DAVISON — A second attempt to have recall language approved against Davison Board of Education member Matthew Smith has been turned down by the Genesee County Election Commission.
The commission voted 2-1 Tuesday to reject recall petition language filed by resident Jenessa Phillips.
Phillips first attempt to have language approved was Sept. 1, but the commission rejected that language, also by a 2-1 vote, saying it was not clear or factual.
The language rejected Tuesday states: “The State of Michigan has charged Matthew M. Smith with malicious use of telecommunication services to threaten physical harm or damage to the Houghton County Clerk.”
Commission members said the language needed to specify who the Houghton County Clerk is.
Smith is facing a misdemeanor charge over an alleged threat made against Houghton County Clerk Jennifer Kelly in March of 2020 during a late-night phone call. He is due in court today on that charge.
Kelly claims Smith threatened to kill her dogs in that alleged conversation.
Smith has maintained his innocence, filing a police report of his own in which he claims his phone was “pranked” by someone using hacking software.
Attorney Alec Gibbs issued a statement Tuesday to the media, through an email sent by Davison resident Kevin Usealman, in which he called the commission’s decision “outrageous” and said he was the one who wrote the language on Phillip’s behalf.
“I drafted the recall language pro bono because the police report made it clear that not only did Matt Smith threaten an elected official, he lied to a state police officer during the course of an investigation and filed a false police report,” said Gibbs in his statement. “For mysterious reasons, he has not been charged with those crimes, which are felonies, and has only been charged with a misdemeanor because he threatened the Houghton County Clerk.”
Gibbs, who is listed as chairman of the Genesee County Democratic Party Voter Protection Committee at migeneseedem.com, called the decision “outrageous” and added the decision “sends a clear message that there is one set of rules for poor criminal defendants, usually people of color, and another set of rules for rich, well connected politicians like Matt Smith who give money and support to the political establishment.”
In addition to serving on the Davison school board, Smith is the chairman of the Genesee County Republican Party and has led several anti-mask protests in recent weeks.
Phillips, said Gibbs, has filed a new petition with the words “Houghton County Clerk” replaced with the name of the alleged victim, “Jennifer Kelly”, to clarify who the victim was.
Gibbs also said in his statement he is looking into an appeal of the election commission’s decision, while encouraging the media to dig deeper into the Smith case and the election commission’s decisions.
“Deputy Clerk Leslie Raleigh and Sheriff Chris Swanson (members of the election commission) understood that today’s recall language was once again not factual,” said Smith. “Again, the petitioner has the right to freedom of speech, and she has exercised it by going to the courthouse and filing a third recall against me, just hours after the second one was thrown out.”
Smith said the allegations made by the petitioner have not been proven in a court of law, nor has he been convicted of wrongdoing.
“I am not guilty of the alleged ‘threats’,” he said.
“The public knows this is all political… just take in consideration all those involved in front and behind the scenes,” said Smith. “Those pushing the recall have had a personal vendetta against me before I was even elected. As evidenced by the fact that five of her original recall reasons were removed from the second petition.”