People collecting signatures to recall Clay Township clerk

By Tony Wittkowski | City Reporter | The Times Herald

Members of the community are collecting signatures in an effort to recall Township Clerk Lisa White.

Clay Township Supervisor Artie Bryson filed a recall petition with the St. Clair County Clerk’s office on Oct. 21 alleging White failed to properly submit IRS forms, which resulted in $700,000 in federal penalties.

He said people have collected 450 signatures since the beginning of December. Bryson said the effort has until the end of January to reach the necessary 914 signatures.

Bryson said if the petition effort succeeds, a special election would determine who would become township clerk. Persons who want to serve as clerk would submit their names to appear on the ballot.

St. Clair County Prosecutor Mike Wendling said an investigation by the Michigan State Police is ongoing of White’s activities as clerk.

“My attorney has been working with them,” Wendling said. “It will be another week or so until they complete the stuff we asked them to do. There is a forensic audit of the origin of the money and a financial investigation, especially since we’re dealing with government funds.”

Wendling wouldn’t say if or what charges may be sought against White.

A theft of more than $50 by a public official is a felony, he said.

While declining to comment on the legal matters, White said the process has been “stressful.”

“I’m just trying to get through every day,” she said. “It’s been very stressful and upsetting.”

White receives her $54,792 annual salary, plus benefits. She is the highest paid of the elected officials in Clay Township.

Bryson said White has not come been at work for nearly two months.

“She has not been to work for about seven weeks, and she has not been to any of our board meetings for three and a half months,” Bryson said. “Last week she cleaned all her personal things out of her office. We have had limited contact with her attorney.”

The township cannot replace the clerk unless White is recalled or resigns. Bryson said he and others have had to pick up the slack.

“We’re spreading them about the office staff because we can’t hire anyone new,” Bryson said. “The deputy clerk is doing a lot of work.”

He said the township has been dealing with the IRS issues. Township auditors met with IRS officials in an attempt to negotiate a resolution.

The township has been in talks with the IRS since October.

“We’ve paid approximately $50,000 already, but we have about $450,000 of outstanding fines right now that we are negotiating with,” Bryson said. “We could be assessed penalties on two more years of W-2 files that were not filed correctly.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at (810) 989-6270 or twittkowsk@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 16, 2014)

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