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Louney resigns commission post amid criticism


TUESDAY, AUG. 14 — Acting under pressure, Ingham County Commissioner Dennis Louney has submitted his resignation following allegations he violated campaign laws.

Louney tendered his resignation by email, Becky Bennett, director of the commission office, confirmed today. The commission could act on it at its next meeting, Aug. 28.

County Clerk Barb Byrum said last week she discovered Louney repeatedly used his taxpayer-funded email address to illegally solicit donations and endorsements, promote fundraisers and form campaign strategies ahead of the August primary election.

Board Chairwoman Carol Koenig said today, “Dennis apparently didn’t know you can’t use county email for campaign purposes. It was a very hard-learned lesson.”

Commissioner Kara Hope urged Louney to quit last week. If he did not not, Hope said she will take steps to formally reprimand him for his behavior.

“I’m not glad it had to come to this,” Hope said today, “but I am glad he did the right thing. This allows commissioners to get back to their jobs without distraction.”

Calls were left with Louney seeking comment.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Mark Grebner said Monday he was preparing a resolution to appoint Thomas Morgan to fill out Louney’s term, which ends Dec. 31.

Morgan beat Louney, who came in third, and Robert Pena in a three-way race in the Democratic primary for the nomination for the 10th District seat to represent the east side of Lansing.

The commission picked Louney in February to fill out the unexpired term of Brian McGrain, who resigned in January to become director of the new Department of Economic Development and Planning under Lansing Mayor Andy Schor.

Reports show Louney emailed officials at Sparrow Health System for input regarding his campaign and to discuss an opponent’s “strange” behavior. Dozens more showed Louney contacted various local labor unions to discuss endorsements and his upcoming campaign fundraisers.

One email to officials at Lansing Community College sought to discuss how upcoming budget conversations can "best represent" the college's financial interests. Louney asked for an endorsement in the same message.

Louney serves on the Lansing Board of Water & Light’s board of commissioners in a term that expired on June 30, 2017. Schor nominated him in February to continue on the board, but the City Council has not yet acted.

(This story was updated to correct the date on which Louney's term expired on the BWL board.)


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