Lansing PR firm leader reportedly hospitalized amid harassment uproar

March 26, 2021, 8:21 PM

A public affairs agency owner is at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing amid a crisis threatening his professional image and business, according to a weekly newspaper.

"TJ Bucholz, a Democratic consultant at the center of a sexual harassment scandal at his firm Vanguard Public Affairs, was [hospitalized] yesterday morning," Lansing City Pulse posts Friday afternoon.

Jackie Ewing, administrative assistant to Michael Armitage, director of the Eaton County 911 Center, confirmed today that dispatchers received a call yesterday at 10:57 a.m. for "suicidal threat/attempt" at Bucholz’s home in Grand Ledge. ...

The Grand Ledge Police Department confirmed officers were dispatched near his home ... but would neither confirm or deny the reported suicide threat or attempt.

A Detroit Free Press reporter, who wrote Thursday about former employees' complaints, tweets Friday:

That narrowly worded response doesn't address the reported hospitalization.

TJ Bucholz, chief executive of a seven-year-old communications agency (Photo: Vanguard Public Affairs)

Todd Heywood of City Pulse adds context:

Bucholz, 50, is the owner of Vanguard Public Affairs in downtown Lansing. The company does political consulting for mostly Democratic and progressive candidates and issues. Nearly a dozen women came forward this week to paint a picture of a workplace rife with sexual harassment, allegedly perpetrated by Bucholz, as first reported by Chris Savage at Eclectablog.

Separately, two staff members at Central Michigan University -- where Bucholz graduated in 1994 -- are on administrative leave during an inquiry related to placement of student interns and recent graduates at Vanguard despite alleged knowledge of a toxic environment for women.

"I am ... angry to learn that this situation may have been ongoing for quite some time," CMU President Bob Davies says Friday in a campus-wide email. Outside attorneys will "conduct a full and impartial investigation, not only to discover what happened, but also to identify steps CMU can take to ensure our students are appropriately supported throughout their CMU journey."

One suspended employee is Steve Coon, a journalism lecturer since 2001 who's also a senior consultant at Vanguard and past director of creative services there in 2014-17. He referred at least two women hired by Bucholz, City Pulse says in a second article Friday.

The other person on leave is Dave Clark, director of student media in 2013. "A member of staff ... may have had knowledge of the situation," the president says without naming him. As adviser to Central Michigan Life, the student newspaper, Clark serves as a "mentor, writing coach [and] trainer," the 1996 CMU alumnus posts on LinkedIn.

"University officials refused to name the employees, but City Pulse was able to independently confirm their identities with two women," the Lansing paper posts.


Read more:  Lansing City Pulse

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