Judge questions evidence against lawmaker facing 2nd trial

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A judge said he has “serious questions” about evidence against a Michigan lawmaker who faces a second trial on corruption charges.

U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker set a Aug. 21 deadline for prosecutors to respond if Rep. Larry Inman asks to have two remaining charges dismissed.

Inman, a Republican from the Traverse City area, is accused of trying to trade votes for campaign money. A jury in December acquitted him of lying to the FBI but couldn’t reach a verdict on charges of attempted extortion and soliciting a bribe.

Inman, who can’t run for re-election because of term limits, denies wrongdoing.

“This case presented two competing narratives between an inartful, yet permissible, effort of obtaining campaign dollars on the one hand, and impermissible attempted extortion and solicitation of a bribe on the other. … The court has serious questions about whether the evidence in this case is sufficient to sustain a conviction on counts 1 and 2,” Jonker said Friday.

In text messages, Inman urged labor advocates to round up campaign contributions from other unions to win the votes of lawmakers who were under pressure from Republican leaders to repeal a wage law.

“We never had this discussion,” Inman said in a text.