Detroit police officer and political rabble-rouser John Bennett has injected a note of controversy into the Michigan Secretary of State race by posting an item and photos on his DetroitUncovered blog accusing Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey (who is trying to become SOS) and Daniel Baxter, Detroit's director of elections, of illegally using city-issued cars to attend a campaign event on Sunday.
"These photos were shot ... at the Washtenaw County Democratic Party's candidates' forum that was held from 2-4 p.m. at the Pittsfield Township administration office, 6201 W. Michigan Avenue," blogs Bennett, who failed in his bid last year to become a Detroit City Council member. "City Clerk Janice Winfrey was there and took part. The blue car is one that is assigned to Winfrey from the City of Detroit. The red car is one that is assigned to her director of elections, Daniel Baxter, from the city as well."
Bennett goes on to site a statute that indicates such transgressions are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, a year in jail or both.
Winfrey told News Hits that she did attend the forum and did use the city-issued vehicle to get there. But she says there were mitigating circumstances. She and other family members were also attending a function involving her daughter at the University of Michigan, where she is a student.
"We, as a family, were going to both places," says Winfrey.
She notes, too, that she had rented a van for members of her campaign to use, and that she has been doing so regularly as she attempts to win the Democratic nomination to be secretary of state.
Balancing the duties of office, a campaign and family obligations is difficult, she says, although she tries to be scrupulous.
"If I made a mistake," she says, "I apologize."
News Hits called Baxter to get his side of the story, but didn't hear back from him by deadline. Winfrey, however, says that Baxter did attend the event in a city-issued vehicle.
"Mr. Baxter probably should not have been up there in that car," she says.
"What are we to expect of candidates if they can't follow the rules when they are on the campaign trail?" asks Bennett, who says he's trying to figure out the proper authority to report the matter to.News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com