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Flint, MI–Genesee County Commissioners voted to demand that the county clerk suspend his election supervisor without pay in light of ballot tampering charges against her.
During their regular board meeting on March 16, Commissioner Bryant Nolden made the motion to demand that County Clerk John Gleason suspend Supervisor Kathy Funk, and was unanimously supported.
“We don’t have the ability to suspend a supervisor, but we do have the power of the purse,” Nolden said. “We need to send a clear message to Gleason that his behavior is unacceptable and the residents deserve better than what he has given us.”
Gleason did not confirm whether he would or would not comply with the commission’s demand, but said he was “working through this.”
“I was elected county clerk. They weren’t,” Gleason said. “And Kathy Funk has not been convicted. She has been charged. …That’s why we have to go through this measurably, we’ve got to measure our efforts. We have to take care of the legal side and the personnel side.”
Funk was arraigned on March 14, 2022 for two charges related to ballot tampering. The charges are from 2020, when Funk was the clerk of Flint Township.
In addition to the demand for suspension without pay, the commissioners also voted to send a letter to the Secretary of State’s office, requesting Sec. Jocelyn Benson and her staff oversee the county election in May.
This resolution was brought forth by Commissioner Shaun Shumaker.
“The last election brought our country to a point where distrust was at an all time high. And as elected officials, we’re never overly trusted as it is,” Shumaker said. “But this, what has taken place, only confirms people’s fears of what’s going on. Did my vote count? Did it get processed? Was it fair? Was it right?”
Shumaker said the commission has “a responsibility to try to restore that trust.”
Specifically, he said the letter would request that Benson and her staff would “come in and run (the) election process in the county,” until the “investigation is done with Mr. Gleason, and Ms. Funk’s investigation and trial is over.”
While this letter received unanimous approval from the commissioners, Gleason said he is opposed to this happening.
“Not going to happen. No, no, no,” Gleason said. “I was elected to administer elections.”
He said this was not “doable,” and said the commissioners were “reckless” for passing the two resolutions.
“I’m just glad I have this job right now, because I see other people that are being reckless with the situation, and I refuse to be reckless,” Gleason said. “I’m glad my name is on the door. We’ll do this the right way.”
Board Chair Commissioner Domonique Clemons said that these two resolutions that the commissioners passed were about “transparency and integrity.”
“These charges on Kathy Funk stem from her time working in Flint Township. They’re not related to her time here in Genesee County. But as such, when those charges were brought forth, we don’t believe that she should be overseeing the election process,” Clemons said. “And we want to make sure that the election process on the county’s side is being followed properly, and that everything is right and transparent.”
Clemons acknowledged that Funk is innocent until proven guilty, but said that these resolutions were “to make sure that she does not have her hands on the election,” and to “be proactive” in ensuring that what happened in Flint Township won’t happen in Genesee County.
Funk is scheduled for a probable cause conference on March 24.
The Secretary of State’s Director of Media Relations Tracy Wimmer told Flint Beat that they “have not received any formal communication from the Board.”