Macomb County has a rich history of political brawling that dates back decades and rivals any local jurisdiction.
The latest political figure to create pure chaos is Karen Spranger, who was elected clerk in November 2016. Since taking office, there's been nothing but controversy and political upheaval.
The latest act in her ongoing drama came Tuesday in federal court in downtown Detroit where Spranger, who is representing herself, squared off with the county's top attorney over claims her constitutional rights have been violated by county officials who have conspired against her.
Mitch Hotts of The Macomb Daily writes:
The hearing was scheduled to have U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh rule on a county request to dismiss a federal lawsuit Spranger filed last month, but she submitted a counter motion earlier Tuesday, so no decision was made.
But Steeh -- a former judge in Macomb County -- indicated in his remarks during the hearing that the suit lacked specific constitutional issues for him to rule on.
“It’s not clear to me was the constitutional violation is,” Steeh said, adding there was no evidence presented to show the elements of a civil conspiracy.
The embattled clerk filed a 23-page lawsuit in January that states county officials, union leaders and news reporters have conspired against her to prevent her from doing the job.
“I’ve tried to make the office more functionable,” she said, according to the Macomb Daily, adding that she was met with opposition which has resulted in political disputes “that got out of hand.”
Macomb County Corporation Counsel John Schapka told the judge:
“We don’t know how the county violated those rights. We don’t know what the facts of the claims are. She only identifies her constitutional rights.”
In addition to Schapka, others named in the clerk’s lawsuit include Macomb County Deputy Executive Mark Deldin; Karen Bathanti, the county’s human resources director; Donna Cangemi, president of AFSCME Local 411; Macomb Chief Circuit Court Judge James Biernat Jr.; Macomb Daily reporter Jameson Cook and WDIV-TV (Channel 4) reporter Jason Colthorp.
Last August, the Detroit Free Press reported:
In her first seven months as the Macomb County Clerk/Register of Deeds, Karen Spranger got kicked off her county computer for allowing noncounty workers on it; fired her two top appointed deputies; sued the county over a litany of issues, and was named as a defendant in three other lawsuits, including a whistle-blower complaint in federal court filed by her former top aides.
She was fined $100 for a county ethics violation; totaled her county car in a crash; filed a criminal complaint about the news media harassing her; was caught on video pushing storage bins to a construction area before an office move she opposed, and is under investigation for allegedly lying on her affidavit to run for office.