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Posted on Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:01 a.m.

Republican Mark Ouimet accused of misconduct as 52nd District state House race turns ugly

By Ryan J. Stanton

(Editor's note: This story has been revised to correct information about Mark Oiumet's spending on travel. The story originally stated that Ouimet spent $3,621 attending conventions and meetings outside the area. That information is incorrect and has been removed from the story.)

The gloves are off in the 52nd District state House race, with attack ads, push polls and robo-calls blasting shots at both Democrat Christine Green and Republican Mark Ouimet.

Neither candidate is taking responsibility for the blows being delivered, maintaining that other political forces beyond their control are at work.

But, both sides agree, it's gotten ugly.

The latest attack came Thursday when the Washtenaw County Democratic Party alleged Ouimet, vice chairman of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, has bilked county taxpayers out of thousands of dollars while in office.


Republican Mark Ouimet has come under fire for more than $35,000 in expenses he has claimed as a county commissioner in the last six years, in addition to his $15,500 annual salary.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Party Chairman Stuart Dowty issued a statement publicly calling for an investigation into more than $35,000 in meeting attendance fees and mileage reimbursements Ouimet has claimed on county expense sheets in his nearly six years as a commissioner.

“There must be a thorough and independent investigation conducted to determine how much Ouimet improperly collected,” Dowty said. “It’s clearly in the thousands of dollars. It certainly raises serious questions about whether Ouimet is fit for the public position that he presently holds, let alone the bigger one that he’s trying to get.”

Ouimet defended the expenses and dismissed the Democratic Party's allegations of misconduct as "politics as usual."

"Clearly this is just a political tactic that Christine Green's campaign is doing — that's obvious," Ouimet said. "I've been turning these expenses in for six years. It's never been an issue, and then three and a half weeks before Election Day, it becomes an issue."

Since he became a commissioner in 2005, Ouimet has collected per diem payments totaling $25,925 for attending 1,037 meetings, county records show. He also has received mileage reimbursements totaling more than $10,000 since 2005, records show.

That comes in addition to his annual board salary of $15,500.

The issue first surfaced at Wednesday’s county board meeting. Local attorney Thomas Wieder, a supporter of Green who obtained records of Ouimet's expenses through the Freedom of Information Act, presented commissioners with what he believes to be evidence that Ouimet improperly collected payments for his attendance at several meetings not eligible for per diems.

Under county rules, commissioners are entitled to $25 per diem payments for attending meetings of the board and its committees, as well as other authorized county-related boards and committees on which commissioners serve.

A review of county records shows Ouimet submitted for per diems for a wide range of meetings, including a March 2009 sit-down with The Ann Arbor News editorial board. He also claimed a per diem for a meeting with in July 2009.

He put in for several per diems for meetings with the county administrator and township officials, as well as for showing up at the annual fallen police officers' memorial, an employee breakfast, a senior center in Chelsea, the American Legion, and what appears to be meetings with an attorney. On some occasions, Ouimet billed the county for per diems as many as four times in one day.

"They weren’t meetings of the board, its committees or any of the approved county boards, commissions and committees," Dowty said. "He claimed payments for all sorts of meetings and activities that aren’t covered — literally hundreds of meetings of township boards that he doesn’t serve on, informal discussions with members of the county staff, even meetings with The Ann Arbor News and"


Christine Green

Green said her campaign has nothing to do with the investigation into Ouimet's expenses, though she said she's glad to see the information being made public.

"Certainly it's a concern," she said. "There isn't anything more important to our qualifications for public office than how you use the taxpayers' money. From what I heard, it sounds like a significant amount of money at issue, and it's the public's money."

Mark Boonstra, chairman of the Washtenaw County Republican Committee, said he didn't know the specifics of the allegations against Ouimet, but he doubts they're credible.

"I can't respond to the allegations. Mark's in a position to respond to that," Boonstra said. "But I would highly doubt they have credibility whatsoever. Mark is an honest guy and he's the last one that would be spending monies that are not authorized or are inappropriate."

Commissioner expenses are signed off on by a staff member in the county clerk's office. Ouimet said he'd be happy to have County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum go through his expenses.

"And if there's something that shouldn't be there, I'm more than happy to repay the county," Ouimet said.

Ouimet told the Gongwer News Service in an article published last week that he originally didn't want the county to pay him a dime when he took office, but the county couldn't accommodate that under its accounting system.

Wieder called that "complete nonsense."

"Even if there were some sort of automatic generation of salary checks for all the commissioners, this isn't about salary," Wieder said. "The only way a commissioner gets paid per diems and mileage is by asking for them by submitting a form. If he didn't want to get this money, he wouldn't have received a dime."

Ouimet outpaces other commissioners

County records show Ouimet has far outpaced other commissioners in claiming per diem payments. In 2009, all 11 commissioners combined to claim $18,650. Of that, $6,550 went to Ouimet, while the other 10 commissioners averaged $1,210 apiece.

In 2008, the 11 commissioners combined to claim $15,325 in per diems. Ouimet claimed $6,450, or about 42 percent of the total for the entire board that year.

Ouimet also has charged the county for mileage for commuting to meetings. Records show those payments have amounted to more than $10,000 since 2005.

In 2009, Ouimet received $2,521 in mileage reimbursements, records show.

Democrat Conan Smith spent $5,417 attending conventions and meetings outside the area last year, records show. Smith, chairman of the Ann Arbor Democratic Party, did not submit for any mileage reimbursements.


Stuart Dowty, Democratic Party chairman

With the county facing significant budget challenges, commissioners voted on changes to the board's rules in January, placing limits on the amount of money commissioners get for travel and per diems.

Under the new rules, each commissioner is entitled to spend one-eleventh — or about $3,500 — of the board's $39,000 "commissioner flex account." Should they choose not to spend their portion, that gets pooled into a joint account other commissioners can draw from.

Commissioner Kristin Judge, who pushed for the change, said for the first time publicly on Friday that the changes were made partly to put a stop to Ouimet's excessive spending.

"He knew exactly what he was doing," Judge said. "You can only get a per diem for a committee you are assigned to by the board of commissioners. But every time he left the house, he'd charge mileage and per diems. It's thousands and thousands of dollars.

"It's very bad and it's very upsetting," she said.

As part of a transparency initiative Judge pushed for, commissioner expenses now are posted publicly on a new county webpage called Open Book eWashtenaw.

Asked why she never publicly aired her concerns about Ouimet's expenses until now, Judge — a Democrat who is finishing up her first term in office — said she was new to the county board last year and worried about the political ramifications of publicly chastising Ouimet.

Judge, who is supporting Green, denied any political motive.

"Before it was political season, I fixed this a year ago," she said. "This is not politically motivated. This is about spending the taxpayer dollars honestly and wisely."

The changes to the board rules have curbed Ouimet's spending, records show. Through September, he has claimed $1,200 in per diems for attending 48 meetings, which is down significantly from the 250-plus meetings a year he had been billing the county for in the past. His mileage reimbursements also have stayed under $1,500 so far this year, compared to more than $2,500 throughout last year.

Ouimet said one reason his mileage expenses have been higher than others is because his district is one of the largest in the county. It covers all or parts of Lyndon, Sylvan, Lima, Scio and Webster townships, as well as the city of Chelsea and the village of Dexter.

"And I cover more than just my own district," said Ouimet, of Scio Township, adding he often helps out other commissioners in their districts.

Ouimet said he gives all of the money he receives from the county to charity.

Dowty said that still doesn't make Ouimet's actions right. Dowty suggested either County Prosecutor Brian Mackie or the Michigan State Police conduct an investigation to see whether Ouimet's actions rise to the level of criminal misconduct.

Clerk questions per diems

Ouimet encouraged to contact Kestenbaum to discuss whether any of the meetings he charged the county for shouldn't have been eligible for per diems.

Kestenbaum said it doesn't look good for Ouimet.

"It looks like there are meetings that he claims for per diems that weren't eligible for per diems," Kestenbaum said Friday, though he called it a "complicated" issue.


Larry Kestenbaum

For example, he said, if Ouimet was sent to a township to discuss and negotiate a police services contract on behalf of the county, one could argue that might have been eligible.

"But if he went to a township meeting or met with a reporter on his own, that wouldn't be eligible," Kestenbaum said.

Kestenbaum said the way the county rules were set up before this year, there weren't many internals controls in place. He said the staff member in the county clerk's office who is responsible for signing off on expenses had no authority to tell a commissioner an expense he or she claimed was ineligible.

"What happened for the current year was we were basically asked to vet these things, and so we started doing that," Kestenbaum said. "But prior to that, basically if a commissioner filed for the meeting, we paid it."

Kestenbaum, a Democrat who served on the county board from 2000 to 2002, said per diems are optional for commissioners, and he personally doesn't think they should accept them. He said he stopped accepting per diems himself shortly after he became a commissioner.

"I thought the per diems were a lot of hassle and paperwork, and it didn't seem like they were worth it to me," he said. "And commissioners, I thought, were adequately compensated with their salary. I urged that the per diems be scrapped."

Kestenbaum said per diems come from a time before commissioners were paid a salary, and to keep paying them today is a bit "antiquated." As for Ouimet's situation, Kestenbaum said, it only reinforces his view that commissioners shouldn't get per diems.

Ouimet, whose wife is a medical doctor, is a former bank president and Northwood University chancellor and chief operating officer. As of his last campaign finance report, he had more than $116,000 in cash on hand after contributing $78,000 to his campaign from his own pocket.

As of Green's last campaign finance report, she had more than $38,000 in cash on hand, nearly $25,000 of which was her own money. Green has been a Scio Township trustee since 2008 and is a practicing attorney of more than 25 years.

More attacks from both sides

Ouimet said he's not buying the claim that Green has nothing to do with the Democratic Party's attack on his expense record.

He suspects Green's campaign has turned negative because she's behind in the polls. Ouimet said his internal data shows the 52nd District race tracking closely with the gubernatorial race, in which Republican Rick Snyder has about a 20-point lead over Democrat Virg Bernero.

"When you're behind, this is the behavior you see," Ouimet said.

Green has been the subject of attacks lately, too, and said she finds it hard to believe Ouimet isn't somehow responsible. The Michigan Republican Party recently mailed out a flier that suggested Green was $43,000 behind on paying her taxes.


The Michigan Republican Party paid to put out this ad attacking Christine Green. The ad, which criticizes Green for being behind on paying her taxes, doesn't mention the instance referred to happened more than two decades ago.

Under the headline "Money Trouble," the ad reads: "Christine Green has repeatedly failed to pay her personal taxes on time. We can't expect Christine Green to balance the state budget and get Michigan's fiscal house in order … She can't even manage her own personal finances."

Those same allegations were made in a push poll last month in which, according to Green, Ouimet's supporters called voters and posed questions that painted Green in a negative light. Green responded by reaching out to Ouimet in a Sept. 24 letter, asking him to put a stop to what she described as "radical and misleading" allegations about a two-decades-old situation.

"Virtually all of the tax liabilities in question arose from my husband Phil Green's law practice in the years 1981 through 1985," she wrote. "For most of that time, I was attending law school, earning little or no income myself, and was not a part of his law practice."

Green said her husband left his Detroit-area law practice and relocated to Ann Arbor in 1980, which required rebuilding the business from scratch. Those were hard times, she said.

"Fortunately, through a lot of hard work and determination, Phil rebuilt his practice, which I later joined," Green wrote to Ouimet. "All of the tax liabilities were paid, and all of the liens were released. The last lien release took place in 1989, more than two decades ago!"

Ouimet maintains his campaign had nothing to do with the attacks on Green.

"On two occasions, I have talked to the Michigan Republican Party about how I'm not pleased that they were doing that," he said. "But these are independent expenditures. I don't know about them until if and when they land, so all I can do is react to them just like Christine."

Ouimet claims Green's supporters were the first to conduct a push poll with a negative spin against him, and that is what he thinks started what's now playing out.

"My campaign is not going to be negative," Ouimet said Thursday. "We're talking about the issues of the state, and the issue of the state is jobs. I don't have anything negative to say about Christine. I think she's a nice person."

Green said she's disappointed.

"This is just my second campaign, and I really thought that we were going to be able to stick to the issues and talk about what I think the people in this county want to hear about," she said. "I am very disappointed it has stooped to this level."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.


First Presbyterian

Wed, Oct 13, 2010 : 4:01 a.m.

I think @methonkstheydoth has come up with a new economic development tool for Ann Arbor SPARK!! We can get UofM to hand out some honorary JD law degrees and the visiting firms can then meet with "Dr. Mike Finney" and "Dr. John Hieftje"!!! LOL @Ryan - perhaps you can settle the matter by asking Mark Ouimet directly if he was encouraging people to call him "Dr. Mark Ouimet" as the evidence on the net (and my memory) indicates and let us know the results?


Tue, Oct 12, 2010 : 11:15 p.m.

Here's to you, Stu! For making a mountain out of a molehill. You care about political mudslinging instead of taxpayers. Mark Ouimet is a fine leader. A lot better than the bozo that is running against him. Mark has close relationships with top GOP leaders and would serve his disrict well in the State House. Dr. Cahill would have been a better qualified nominee than Green. "Dr. Cahill", perhaps that should be his new handle locally, LOL.

Tom Wieder

Tue, Oct 12, 2010 : 11:09 p.m.

@methinkstheydoth- There were, at least, two FOIA requests, but I can promise you that I did not see the results of either until Wednesday, October 6th, at about 8 am, less than 12 hours before I raised the issue at the Board of Commissioners meeting. I had been told that Ouimet was excessivr with his per diem claims, but saw no evidence of it until that day.


Tue, Oct 12, 2010 : 10:06 p.m.

Did anyone consider that elevating the status of University officials' positions actually serves to honor the Chinese hosts of these officials? That is, the hosts gain face in their culture by having a visit from a bunch of Doctors, honorary or otherwise. Or are people too busy working on the politics of personal destruction to consider that sometimes people might do things for reasons that are bigger than themselves?

mike from saline

Tue, Oct 12, 2010 : 9:38 p.m.

Good evening Dr. Cahill. Now, does that make you feel a little Better? Oh yea, good night and good luck, too.

First Presbyterian

Tue, Oct 12, 2010 : 8:56 p.m.

@Mick52, since you asked, here is another link to a document which states, "Dr. Mark Ouimet, chancellor of Northwoods University, has joined the foundation board of directors." This document gives a list of people including "Dr. David E. Fry, the President of Northwoods University; Dr. Mark Ouimet, its Chancellor."


Tue, Oct 12, 2010 : 6:50 p.m.

Perhaps the clue to false protests of wrongdoing is in the FOIA request. Note that it is dated May 11 of this year and was sent to neither of the two attorneys posting above for the opposing campaign. Might there have been trouble with the bar sitting on such a matter for five months, gentlemen? Or are we to believe you just found out about this document?


Tue, Oct 12, 2010 : 4:50 p.m.

I see no criminal malfeasance. As long as Ouimet filled out his county voucher disclosing truthfully and completely the nature of his claim it would have been incumbent upon the clerk's office to either accept or reject it by applying proper standards. It would only have been arguably fraud if Ouimet was shown to have known the proper standards and made a claim he knew was improper. It looks that if the clerk's office paid these willy-nilly without adequate checks and balances, then they should be the ones in the hot seat.

just a voice

Tue, Oct 12, 2010 : 9:56 a.m.

read the article, and worked through the start of the comments but didn't get that far yet, but omg, I don't understand how republicans can defend this guy. He clearly got money for meeting that were not legit. Then they defend him, someone even saying what a great guy giving it to charity. This lack of dealing with reality is something I just can't comprehend. If you want fiscally repsponsible government, for real as appose to a rallying cry, then you can't vote for a candidate who is clearly wasting government money.

David Cahill

Tue, Oct 12, 2010 : 9:38 a.m.

I have a real Juris Doctor degree (from U-M even) and nobody calls me "Dr. Cahill".


Tue, Oct 12, 2010 : 8:15 a.m.

I am a Democrat who worked on a community issue with Mark Ouimet for several years. I was very favorably impressed. He works incredibly hard, listens carefully to his constituents, and cares very much about doing a good job. I also found that he works effectively across parties to get things done. This mudslinging, and the unfair attack ads against Christine Green that have wound up in my mail box are both a huge turn off. It is no wonder fewer and fewer good people are interested in public service, voters stay away from the polls, and we end up with partisan hacks instead of responsible, professional legislators.

Tom Wieder

Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 8:38 p.m.

Ouimet may have received an honorary doctorate from Northwood in 1998. He is listed on their "Honorees" page in that year, but nothing is said about a doctorate. On his LinkedIn page,, he is listed, under "Honors," as having an "Honorary Juris Doctor from Northwood University, 1998." Someone told me that after this, he wanted people at Northwood to call him "Dr. Ouimet." Obviously, more than a bit weird, since even people with real Juris Doctor degrees (lawyers) are almost never called "doctor" in this country. Ouimet was on the Board of the Athena Foundation after leaving Northwood, and may have been acting president, so the guy in that article is almost assuredly him. He has spoken of his Athena connection in past campaigns. Not sure why he doesn't mention it now.


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 8 p.m.

Sam, in re to your Dr issue. Your first link refers to him as "Dr. Mark Ouimet of the National Athena foundation," a womens group. Can you clarify if he was a member? The story is about a conference in Lancaster, Pa. I am trying to verify your post through your links but it does not make sense. His FB page does not mention the NAF and one would think it should being such a national organization Enlighten please? Your second link refers to a conference in 1999. The mention of Ouimet as a Dr is contained in a speech given by an unnamed person who used the title Dr for Ouimet. In my experience I am aware that many people work at Universities as lecturers and in admin who are not Phds but many people don't know who has what and a lot of people get called Prof, Dr, etc. So this post does not prove your assertion either that he asked people to refer to him as a Dr. If you are aware that he intentionally did so, could you please post some evidence? Neither of these post support your comment. I would be interested in knowing if this were true but the links do not prove it.


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 7:29 p.m.

Couple things are key here. If this is inappropriate, it was handled improperly. If these payments are not policy, this could be a fraud and should have been reported to a police agency before being flaunted publicly. If Mr Ouimet put in for meetings that do not quality for reimbursement, his ethics are not sound enough for public office. The whistle blower here has not provided enough proof that this is inappropriate or has just been acceptable. Second, and this makes me angrier and is the real issue: "Kestenbaum said.....the staff member in the county clerk's office who is responsible for signing off on expenses had no authority to tell a commissioner an expense he or she claimed was ineligible." What? So we had an official passing out money who had no authority to question requests? Saying, "I am sorry this is not covered," is not questioning requests. It is the job. If this is true we have incompetents running county government and the lot of them should be dismissed whether they have fixed it or not. This implies that all of them were in on this scam, or that they gave tacit approval for what has happened here, whether or not it followed policy. Now the important part is that whether or not Ouimet was the only one doing this, if the others could have then he is not at fault. One says he just didn't want to go to the hassle of doing it. But he could have. The democrats should not have released this information without releasing the same information on each and every person eligible to get these reimbursements. There is too much mud slinging in this campaign at all levels and it is simply disgusting. To me (and I respect all of your opinions) the democrats are the worst, especially based on the mail I get daily from the MI Dem party regarding the congressional seat for my area. No info on what the candidate will do to help us, just slander on the opponents past. And now this. I am an independent but the left keeps giving me more and more reason to go right. Its a matter of the lesser evil.

Sam Adems

Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 1:36 p.m.

I'm disappointed in the coverage of Mark Ouimet by This is not the first time that Mark Ouimets behavior has been questioned but if you read this news story and the posts you'd have no idea. Here is what's missing: Mark Ouimet was Chairman, President & CEO of a local bank and he received $465,000 in bonuses from the bank during that time (see page 14 of, yet the bank lost money every year he was president of it, for a total of $2.7 million (see page 15 of As a result, he was asked to step down by the banks board of directors. Mark Ouimet during his years working for Northwood University asked people to refer to him as Dr. Mark Ouimet, yet there is no evidence that he ever had a doctorate degree. For two examples, see Chamber News and Perhaps in future stories reporters can mention the past actions of this man which are echoes of the current actions that many find so troubling? Perhaps in future stories reporters can mention the past actions of this man which are echoes of the current actions that many find so troubling?


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 12:58 p.m.

This sort of thing plus the robo calls, the inundation with attack mailings, and all the other ugliness makes me wonder why anyone would run for public office at any level. Bless them all for their sense of purpose and commitment to their community, I say!


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 12:35 p.m.

Still waiting to hear if Commr Judge is going to vote to approve Commr Gunn's board resolution to do away with expense accounts for all board members. They are a relic of the past, particularly in this economy. Gunn's resolution is reasonable and the right thing to do.


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 12:02 p.m.

Did not really know Kristin Judge until a few minutes ago, seen her signs in my modest neighborhood, she has some, lets call it guts, I do not want to get censored. On the Other hand Mark is still getting my vote, he was entitle to those per Diem charges and he should get them. Change th procedure, then it will not be an issue. Good luck to both candidates, it is all about free speech and the right to vote in private. Did the unions people hear that, not open voting for check off!

James McIntosh

Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 11:16 a.m.

Mark Ouimet tells us, "I've been turning these expenses in for six years." He is absolutely correct, as in less than six years, Mr. Ouimet has submitted and been paid for 1,037 per diem requests. Can anyone suggest that one per diem request every other day for almost six years is reasonable. Mr. Ouimet received 42% of all Commissioner reimbursement in 2008, leaving 5.8% on average for the other 10 Commissioners. I am surprised that these patterns didn't echo through the halls of the County buildings and didn't attract a FOIA requests from or its predecessor, the Ann Arbor News. How does this square with the other quote from Mr. Ouimet: "Ouimet told the Gongwer News Service in an article published last week that he originally didn't want the county to pay him a dime when he took office, but the county couldn't accommodate that under its accounting system." Will the real Mark Ouimet stand up.

Chase Ingersoll

Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 10:03 a.m.

The candidates go out and pander to the voters, while the parties go out and slander their candidate's opponent rather than raising any substantive issue. Every October is the season for watching an alcoholic pimp and a crack head whore cuss each other out. And these are the "parties" to which our "leaders" belong and receive financial support. Ouimet is busy out knocking 10's of thousands of doors, because he firmly believes that is the way to get elected in the district. He is probably right, but I personally think that says something terrible about a significant portion of the voters in the district - if you come to my door and tell me how important I am, I am more likely to vote for you. Regardless of your party affiliation or side of any issues, voting on that basis rather than on a sincere effort to inform oneself, is an insult to all of us who have actually spent time researching facts, learning how the political system works and actually showing up at events to ask candidates serious questions.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 9:40 a.m.

Everybody knows Mark - he has visited all his constituents multiple times - sacrificing his own time night after night. He knows the issues they care about - because he actually listens to you when you talk to him. He goes to meeting after meeting when the rest of us stay home. He is committed to the county and the voters - and that is absolutely confirmed by his actions. His lead saved police patrols. His lead helped balance a significantly deteriorated county budget - cutting millions. He is a 'no games' kind of guy. This fake charge amounts to nothing but pulling at a straw-man. Endorsed by almost everyone including Democrats in leadership positions across the county Mark is the only choice for Lansing.

Kristin Judge

Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 8:14 a.m.

@A2Huron - You are absolutely right that Commissioner Ouimet is allowed to charge for mileage and per diem for some of the meetings he attends. There are board rules that specify which ones. It is a matter of following the rules. I personally want to elect people who feel the rules always apply to them. @A2Huron - The money I have brought in to the county so far as a direct result of meeting with "VIP's" in Washington DC is a $5,000 check from Google's corporate office to pay for the Washtenaw County Cyber Citizenship Coalition website that went live last week. We also had a Google speaker come to town last week at no cost to the taxpayer. We are now in a position to receive federal grants to raise awareness and educate residents about online safety. The number one growing crime in America. I will be sure to let you all know how much money we receive. Another direct financial benefit to the residents in Washtenaw County is the CVS/Caremark prescription Drug card I brought back as a direct result of attending a National Conference. We just started the program in our county in the beginning of September, so we do not have the numbers on actual savings for our residents, but below are the numbers for 2010 for a neighboring county, Jackson. From those numbers we can assume that county residents will save approximately $24,000 a year. Oakland residents have saved $3 million in 3 years. I am personally driving around town handing out cards to local government offices, small businesses and non-profits so that staff does not have to work on this. Jackson County Residents Using the CVS/Caremark Card (January 2010-August 2010) $ saved on Prescriptions$17,878.81 Number of users 535 We are also starting a pilot program in the Sheriff's office using technology to enhance revenue. It is projected to bring in over $25,000 in the first year. Again, would not have had that program if I had not met the national representative from the company who offered us the pilot. Yet another "VIP". If my resume is padded from attending these meetings, it is because I do something with what I learned when I get home. Anyone can call me on my personal cell phone at 734-646-2088 if they want to ask me any questions. Note, I also saved the county over $1500 so far by turning in my county cell phone. "Unless you can verify with proof that you brought back more $ to the county and your township than the cost of your trip, then it doesn't fly." Hope this answers your question.


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 7:38 a.m.

@Judge: Find it a bit disingenuous that you are bragging about claiming $0 in per diem and mileage reimbursements during 2010 (an election year no doubt) when using the very "flexible spending account" scheme that you championed, you have chosen instead to use all of your flex funds for out-of-state travel. How much out-of-state travel has Oumiet used this year or last? Simply put, if you had claimed per diems and mileage reimbursements this year, you wouldn't have had enough money to travel around the country so often. And it appears you even asked other commr's to yield some of their unused flex money over to your account so you could travel still more this year. You still have trips planned through the end of this year it would appear. Fortunately this was rejected by the rest of the county board. You willing to publicly sign-on & pledge to support Commr Gunn's resolution to eliminate all county board per diems, mileage, and travel expenditures for commissioners? If so, I implore you to do so before the November election. Set the example for others to follow. It'll help return the public's trust that is now lost in commr expense account spending.

Kristin Judge

Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 7:21 a.m.

@basic bob I do go to the senior center and many other meetings. I just don't get paid $25 each time. If I wanted to benefit personally, I could skip the educational conferences and charge for mileage and per diems. I could have made $3,500 in income this year above my salary. Instead I spent thousands on gas, air travel and hotels for work that I did not charge to taxpayer. My charges for mileage and per diem in 2010=$0.


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 12:22 a.m.

It is very clear that this news has come at a crucial point before the election. How could anyone think otherwise? Do the parties mentioned above in the article really have such low expectations of the 'people,' that we would be unable to see that this is a political tactic to take a republican chair? If the policy has been changed, then why publicize this now? Mr. Ouimet donates his salary to charity, look it up! Its public information. Time for a change! Time for honest commissioners! Vote for Sean Gray and Mark Ouimet in the November 2010 Election!


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11:52 p.m.

Mr Briegel has spoken. We can all go home now.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11:23 p.m.

The fact that Mark goes to meetings and sleeps is once again a cheap shot with not evidence I would like to know what meeting he goes to and sleeps through and why this has never been an issue before. As for the type of Republican Mark is I am sure he will comment on that when Green will provide example and endorsements of the bi-partisan support she claims she has and does not or can prove he experience in helping small business.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11:10 p.m.

At this point it is all "he said" "she said" nonsense until all the facts are out this is a lot of wasted time. Is it possible the Ouimet submitted meetings that should not have been submitted yes should the clerks office have said something yes! This seems to be a late pile on Ouimet party for being human and making a mistake. Never in his six years as commissioner has this ever been an issue and now when it looks like he will win a seat this is historically Democrat this is dropped in his lap it. This seems like a desperate attempt by the democrats to take a away a job from Ouimet who is more qualified for the position simply because he will have an R behind his name on November 2nd.

First Presbyterian

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11:04 p.m.

I've known Mark for many years and I find it kind of humorous that Mark is actually getting paid for attending all those meetings. At least half of the meetings he's been at that I've attended, he's asleep at some point! We all get a good laugh about it. Great work if you can make money doing that for a living but I don't think the tax payers are getting their money's worth each time!

First Presbyterian

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11 p.m.

I find it interesting that removes any true but negative posts about Mark's historic lack of ethics - for example the fact that he went around town for several years calling himself Dr. Mark Ouimet when in fact he never received a doctorate - yet keeps all the off topic ones up that attest to his ethics. It's a double standard!


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:46 p.m.

@Kristin Judge it is commendable that you don't ask for reimbursement (I have a feeling you are not driving around 7 days a week, all day long from county to county putting wear and tear on your vehicle like Mark does), but you do have a RIGHT to ask for reimbursement, as Ouimet does. And part of his job is attending lots of meetings, driving to local businesses and such, and he takes that seriously. When most workers drive from one place to another they ask for reimbursement. Just because you don't doesn't make it wrong for others to.

David Briegel

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:37 p.m.

Vivenne Armentrout, Kristin Judge, David Cahill and Tom Weider and others are correct. Larry Kestenbaum confirms that. Basic Bob, Salinemom and others are wrong. Mark was wrong. He should apologize and make restitution.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:32 p.m.

@Jim Edwards. I too sit on a number of boards and committees with Mark Ouimet and I can honestly say that he's very good at one thing...showing up! I cannot point to a single measurable outcome that has resulted from his presence at any meeting or board that I'm involved with. There are over 90 postings to this article and not one person has presented any factual or tangible result from all of his years of public service. We'd all love to hear some facts and figures related to all of those thousands of meetings -- what have you accomplished on our behalf? I'm fearful that what we'll find is what his expense sheets demonstrate; Ouimet is VERY good at showing up.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:27 p.m.

This is the craziest article I have read in a while. $35,000 to attend over 1,000 meetings which comes down to about $35 per meeting. Honestly I am impressed at how LITTLE he has asked for reimbursement from the meetings attended (35 dollars does not even cover the cost of gas!). He has balanced the budget as commissioner and even saved quit a bit of money for us, he is fiscally conservative and walks the talk. @jussayin I must disagree with you. My husband is on multiple local boards and in service groups where Ouimet attends on a regular basis. My husband and I are both impressed with how giving he has been to our charities (not just money but time/effort/ideas). I'm not usually a Republican supporter but he has impressed me over the years and I plan on voting for him (probably my only Republican vote).


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:25 p.m.

@Judge: Im puzzled by your assertions that you are justified in spending thousands of taxpayers $ to attend conferences and junkets across the country. It appears that you attend far more conferences than any other single commissioner. Yes, per diems should be eliminated, particularly given the abuses we have just witnessed. But so should travel. Unless you can verify with proof that you brought back more $ to the county and your township than the cost of your trip, then it doesn't fly. No one should be flying around the country building up a resume during the middle of the worst economic crisis in decades. It isn't about name-dropping or meeting VIPs. Its about effectively using resources for mandated services. Not one county employee should sacrifice if a board member isn't. Taxpayers are struggling to buy gas just to search for a job let alone have enough money to take a vacation or travel out of the state. The private sector has eliminated travel budgets to make ends meet. It is time the county does the same. Eliminate the excess.

Jim Edwards

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:12 p.m.

This is a very sad and suspiciously timed article... go ahead stand in judgement of a man who has given much of his life in service of others, not for his own financial gain, but because it was the right thing to do. Yes, he has been blessed with a successful run in the business world, but is that a bad thing? I am on a community board with Mark and I can assure you that his intensity, drive, dedication and commitment with NO compensation whatsoever have made him a valuable resource. He is an effective and selfless public servant who makes life better for the less fortunate each and every day. You want to stick this nonsense on him? C'mon mud-slingers. Do you really think that this alleged amount of money would really motivate Mark to go against his beliefs? Low blow. This pedestrian tactic will backfire and strengthen his resolve. The candidates should focus on the issues and get back to what they can do for our community. Jim Edwards

Kristin Judge

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:10 p.m.

@basic bob I do go to the senior center and many other meetings. I just don't get paid $25 each time. If I wanted to benefit personally, I could skip the educational conferences and charge for mileage and per diems. I could have made $3,500 in income this year above my salary. Instead I spent thousands on gas, air travel and hotels for work that I did not charge to taxpayer. My charges for mileage and per diem in 2010=$0.

Basic Bob

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 9:52 p.m.

@Tom Wieder, Sadly, my district's commissioner spends a boatload of money on out-of-town conferences. I'd rather pay $25 for her to drive down to the senior center and give some hugs.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 9:47 p.m.

"... Commissioner Ouimet has received more reimbursement than anyone else because he works harder than anyone else...." Nice work if you can get it! Oh, and speaking of smears and October surprises, does Ouimet by any chance plan to apologize to Green sometime very soon for the $43,000 broadside sent out by the state GOP on his behalf? That fine hatchet piece is ethically reminiscent to the rather nasty late mailers produced by (and for) Pam Byrnes' now-deceased State Senate campaign And yes, the county should quickly jettison its custom of allowing per diems.

Tom Wieder

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 9:44 p.m.

Well, Basic Bob, there's a great answer, and a wonderful standard for the proper use of public funds. Ouimet is entitled to $25 for attending a breakfast, because it's worth more to his constituents than a junket! It's the "better-than-a-junket" standard! How inspiring!

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 9:26 p.m.

I totally agree with Larry Kestenbaum. Per diems (payments for attending meetings) are paid to members of county boards and commissions, including County Commissioners. The individuals who are paid this relatively minor amount ($25) have to submit a request in order to be paid. (For some committees, the staff simply circulates a sign-in sheet.) I've never understood this practice. Commissioners receive a stipend for their service. Other board members are volunteers who accepted appointments and may submit requests for the per diem and the mileage expense (at Federal levels as defined in the tax codes). City council members and appointees to Ann Arbor city boards and commissions do not receive per diems and yet eagerly seek these responsibilities. The amount is small but as our county clerk says, the accounting burden must be expensive. (Since these are taxable payments, I assume that the county must issue W-2s as well as cutting the checks.) The amounts are perhaps not significant. Yet, as we know with our personal finances, these small insults add up. Considering the number of people involved and the accounting expense, this is a drag on county finances at at time when we have already experienced major structural changes in county operations, and more are promised. At a time when county employees are losing their jobs by the dozens and hundreds and we are threatened with the loss of services, it is simply not forgivable that commissioners and other board members would not recognize both the symbolic and the financial implications of this practice. Certainly requesting payments to which you are not entitled, as Mr. Ouimet has (by actual record), is not defensible. The county should simply cease this practice for commissioner and all other board and committee members. Commissioner Leah Gunn announced in a comment on the Ann Arbor Chronicle that she will bring a resolution to this effect to the BOC in November and I hope that it receives the votes necessary to pass. As for Cmr. Ouimet, he knowingly applied for per diem payments to which he was not entitled. The staff who handled these transactions are not the responsible parties. It is the commissioner who should have understood the rules (and he is supposed to have some financial expertise) and who applied for per diems for meetings that were not qualified. Any other information such as the efforts he has made to reach out to his constituency is irrelevant to this point, although not to whether voters might want to support him. He should apologize for misusing public funds and return the money, whether or not he has already "donated it to charity".

Basic Bob

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 9:20 p.m.

"do you real think Ouimet was entitled to be paid $25 to talk to the newspaper or for attending an employee breakfast?" Yes, it benefits his constituents more than than an out-of-town junket.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:56 p.m.

While it is encouraging to see so many people passionate about this race, it's saddening to see people swayed by what is clearly a last-minute political ploy. Commissioner Ouimet has received more reimbursement than anyone else because he works harder than anyone else. There is no cover-up and no mystery. The only thing this article demonstrates is that Mr. Ouimet is the most dedicated politician in the area. He pursues, full time, what others pursue with spare time...which is why we need to ensure him a place in Lansing!!

Tom Wieder

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:53 p.m.

Those defending Ouimet say things like this is "mudslinging" and question why it is being raised right before an election. First of all, Ouimet does not even deny the truth of the allegations. How could he? He submitted things like meeting with The Ann Arbor News and, attending a county employee breakfast, going to a senior center, and asked for, and received, $25 and mileage for going to each. This information came from the official county records, based on what he made claims for. Now that he's been caught, even he won't say that he was actually entitled to these payments. So what if these things are coming out close to an election? That's part of the democratic system. The competition of elections stimulates attention and provides an incentive to take a close look at what elected officials are doing. If the allegations are true, and he has time to answer them, what's the complaint? It's not like these charges are being raised two days before the election. So tell me, Ouimet supporters, do you real think Ouimet was entitled to be paid $25 to talk to the newspaper or for attending an employee breakfast?


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:48 p.m.

Mark is one of the most honest citizens I know. As a resident of Scio Township, Mark approaches issues with care, concern, and commitment. I have voted a split ticket to that I can support Mark and will continue to do so in the future.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:42 p.m.

The Ouimet trolls are out in force in these posts. This story is about the inappropriate use of public funds by Mark Ouimet. Don't be distracted by the slams toward the clerk's office, Kristen Judge, Christine Green or any other convenient target. Look at the expense reports he submitted. There's no skullduggery involved and this does not require deep fact checking...interviews with The Ann Arbor News and meetings where he was not the appointed county representative were not allowed for reimbursement. He's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar and the trolls are saying "hey, look over there..." in hopes that you won't notice.

David Cahill

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:35 p.m.

It is undisputed that Ouimet paid himself per diems for meetings that didn't qualify for them under the Board's own rules. And he didn't have to get anyone's approval.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:34 p.m.

Mark is one of the most honest and straightforward citizens I know. As a resident of Scio Township, Mark has displayed commitment and integrity as our county commissioner. I have consistantly supported Mark over the past few elections voting a split ticket, I will continue to do so in the future.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:23 p.m.

Oops, look like something was cut off... Continuing: One side sniffs out something about the other and jumps all over it as though it was God's Truth. Isn't anyone interested in getting to the bottom of an issue first, before casting stones?


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:23 p.m.

This reeks of pure politics before an election. Over the years, Mark Ouimet may have received as much support from local Democrats as Republicans. He has always been very well respected and has worked his butt off for this community. The fact that this comes out now is one of the main reasons people are turned off about politics. All you have to do these days is assert a claim and it is picked up by the media and regarded as quasi-fact I'll be supporting Ouimet MORE because of this seedy allegation. If his opponent cannot prove this and prove it now, she (or her "handlers" by proxy) owe him a public apology.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:09 p.m.

Accusations, innuendo, allegations, suppositions, but no hard facts, no proof positive of anything. What are we suppossed to do with this bit of information? I tend to agree with those who take issue with the timing of all of this. I have not idea who is ahead in this particular race, but if it is consistent with others, then whoever is behind usually does the last minute mud slinging. I also have an issue with the people who equate allegation with guilt. As someone pointed out earlier, this board can be so darned partisan. One side sniffs out something about the other, and jumps all over it as though it was God's Truth. Isn't anyone interested in getting to the bottom of something before passing judgement anymore?

R. Ellish

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 7:27 p.m.

It time for the "Ann Arbor News" to become more ethical in its own reporting of the news not half-baked stories! Given the issue this State faces we need to know in simple terms what the candidates stand for so we the general public including first time voters can made well informed decisions now more than ever.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 7:18 p.m.

@Huron: Upon a detailed review of Kristen Judge's expense accounts you will see her expenses were to attend conferences and conduct county business. Further, Commissioner Judge DID NOT expense any meals or local transportation (rental car/taxis). She paid for those expenses out of her own pocket. Lastly, Commissioner Judge turned in her county cell phone viewing it as an expense the taxpayers did not need to foot. Keeping fighting for the taxpayer Kristen!

Go Blue

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 6:36 p.m.

I can't believe that Sean Gray uses this article as a political platform to attack someone who is obviously working hard to bring accountability and transparency to government spending. He seems very mis-informed on the words he spews forth. Thank you Kristin Judge. I have followed your work as a county commissioner. You brought about tremendous accountability (like NO OTHER county commissioner I have ever elected). As an Independent voter, you have my vote (again).


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 6:26 p.m.

In this economy, no one should be misusing public funds or using them for non-mandated purposes. Per diems, excessive travel budgets, mileage reimbursements these all must be eliminated if this county is going to set an example for its employees and taxpayers. Commr Judge appears to have a lot of disdain for Commr Ouimet. All is not well in the castle, so to speak. While I think the expenses definitely need to be looked at and, at a minimum, reimbursed, I am concerned about how Judge is holding herself out as some savior in this process when her own spending seems to be on the very high side, too. Looking at the countys own reports at the below link shows how she appears to have a tendency to run the expense mill dry. Pot calling the kettle black? While I dont dispute the need to attend meetings and the such as a commr, no one should try to disguise a traveling jones as a way to bring in resources for her constituents. All I can see is political resume padding. Again, in this economy, only mandated services matter. Have Judges constituents seen a revenue increase from federal funds directly attributed to her travelling around the country? Do her residents still subsidize other townships for police services? What on earth is this county paying per diems for as well as funding commrs to travel around the country? Something needs to be changed and immediately. Im getting into an anti-incumbent mood with some of the things I am seeing now. No one has clean hands in this process.

Larry Kestenbaum

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 6:16 p.m.

To briefly respond to a couple of comments: Commissioner Judge and myself were both in the article, and it's entirely proper for us to answer questions that were raised about our roles in the per diem situation. The original article was not about who should be elected to represent the 52nd District. It was about the charges being made against both candidates via robocalls and otherwise. The background of those charges is entirely on topic.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 5:46 p.m.

I'm concerned that Kristin Judge has gotten so involved in this blog. As I recalled reading the article, it was suppose to be about Ouimet's spending per diem. Now it seems like it has degenerated into Judge defending or promoting her actions as a commissioner. This comes at a time when the election is right around the corner and this matter cannot be accurately verified, and she admits she is a supporter of Green. I am highly suspect of her motives. I know nothing of Green, her track record, her community involvement that would lead me to be believe that she would be a good representative for the 52nd District. On the other hand, I am familiar with Ouimet.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 5:37 p.m.

So referring to Mr. Kestenbaum's comments- the policy of paying or not paying per diem to salaried public officials certainly looks like it needs to be revisited. That is not the question being addressed here. If the policy was in place for officials to submit for reimbursement for mileage and other costs then Mr. Ouimet and other officials were working within the rules that are/were in place. Whether these rules need to be revoked is another issue. It appears Mr. Ouimet is being accused of trying to keep in touch with his constituency. What exactly is the crime in that?

Larry Kestenbaum

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 5:05 p.m.

I'm the county clerk. When it comes to county government money, the Board of Commissioners is supreme. Per diems are paid under the Board of Commissioners' own authority, under the Board rules. Until the beginning of this year, when the Board changed the rules, my office did not have the authority to review or reject per diem reimbursements; nor did the payroll office. I have long advocated that public officials who receive salaries should not be paid per diems on top of those salaries. Because it's a lot of accounting over a small amount of money, it's a very inefficient use of public resources. This case also illustrates how much trouble per diems can cause for commissioners. Long after the fact, it can be difficult to prove or disprove that an official took part in some specific meeting, or that the meeting was eligible for a per diem under the Board rules then in force. For the umpteenth time in the last ten years, I call on the Board to abolish per diems for salaried officials.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 3:59 p.m.

People, recognize this article for what it is - more dirty politics and mud-slinging. Doesn't anyone find it interesting that this issue comes to light months after the information was secured through the FOIA? Mark Ouimet has always been generous with his time and talents, both as a private citizen and as an elected official. He has served the county honorably. I hope he will have the opportunity to continue to do so.

Kristin Judge

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 3:58 p.m.

@Karen - It is part of our job to be a representative of the county at many functions and meetings. Mark and I are at many of the same events/meetings sometimes 4-5 times a week. The fact that he is active in his community is not the question. Appropriate use of taxpayer dollars and following board rules is the issue regardless of your "passion" for the community.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 3:50 p.m.

The question is: Did Ouimet charge 4 (four) per diems for one day or not? It's really a 'Yes / No' question. Where I've worked if you charged 4 per diems for the SAME day you'd be terminated for cause and apparently Ouimet did it a lot: 'On some occasions, Ouimet billed the county for per diems as many as four times in one day.' I guess Ouimet feels this is justified and good financial management. The 'Ouimet said one reason his mileage expenses have been higher than others is because his district is one of the largest in the county.' basically assumes voters are stupid. We can add and even multiply and use spreadsheets and this math doesn't wash. Thanks Ryan for the statistics; we need some facts and the numbers say it all: 'In 2008, the 11 commissioners combined to claim $15,325 in per diems. Ouimet claimed $6,450, or about 42 percent of the total for the entire board that year.' We need new leadership at Washtenaw County and Kristin Judge would be a good leader to put in place. It seems like transparency and tight financial management scares both entrenched Demos and Repubs.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 3:34 p.m.

The naivety of the Ouimet supporters is comical. Because he shows up at meetings and talks with boy scouts he's fit to hold a higher office? Peel back the onion a bit and ask why he left banking, why can't LaSalle University (where he lists that he obtained his degrees)verify that he was a student there, and why we should be impressed by an Athena Award from 13 years ago, given by a chamber where he's held leadership positions? All little twists that add up to bigger questions involving truthfulness and integrity. Keep digging


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 3:12 p.m.

Kristen Judge may have decreased the amount of per diems that Mark Ouimet and any of the other commissioners were allowed to claim, but I will bet it did not decrease the amount of meetings that Commissioner Ouimet continued to attend, paid for or not. His commitment to and passion for this community is what we should remember on Election day.

Kristin Judge

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 2:48 p.m.

@Robert Coburn - I did not bring up this issue right now. I took care of it in 2009 by changing the board rules. My actions have already caused Mr. Ouimet to decrease his per diem spending from 250 meetings a year to under 50. "The changes to the board rules have curbed Ouimet's spending, records show. Through September, he has claimed $1,200 in per diems for attending 48 meetings, which is down significantly from the 250-plus meetings a year he had been billing the county for in the past. His mileage reimbursements also have stayed under $1,500 so far this year, compared to more than $2,500 throughout last year." My participation in this article is simply a result of my board policy and budget changes. I also believe we should vote for public servants who spend responsibly and follow the rules. The American public is tired of politicians who think they can bend the rules to fill their own pockets with taxpayer dollars. So am I!


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 2:41 p.m.

@ Murrow... And what else would you have him do/say? People are so partisan here, any little comment is blown out of proportion.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 2:25 p.m.

@A2democrat: Of course I find the damaging and theft of ANY candidate's signs offensive and an anathema to our First Amendment rights. You have no basis to suggest that I feel otherwise.

Robert Colburn

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 2:08 p.m.

These "October surprises" always make me suspicious. Why is Mark Ouimet's spending made an issue now? If his conduct was so awful, why all-of-a-sudden it's not until October these horrific offenses come to light? From what I've been reading of late, I believe that Ms. Green and Ms. Judge should stop throwing stones in their own glass houses.

Glenn Tarcea

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 2:01 p.m.

It's interesting that Sean Grey is attacking the transparency that Kristin Judge has fighting for. So Mr. Grey, if you were elected commission could we expect that you would continue to fight against reforms to make our government functions made more open and transparent? It's one thing to campaign on the issue, and another to follow through. Kristin Judge has followed through.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 1:51 p.m.

This is turning into more of a Judge vs. Gray debate, which should suggest that the issue is less whether Ouimet did anything wrong and more about Dems vs. Rep. Anyone who changes their vote based on this article isn't looking at the whole picture. Mr. Ouimet is willing to have these allegiations looked into, and is willing to pay if wrongdoing is found. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, there is very little time for this process to take place before election day, which I suspect was the intention. Nothing in this article should change all the good that Mark Ouimet has done during his tenure as commissioner.

George Shilling

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 1:38 p.m.

Early this year Mark Ouimet came to speak to my Boy Scout Troop. He spent half an hour discussing the responsibilities and duties of a United States citizen and some of his responsibilities as a representative. That was nine months ago, and the youth still remember who he is it takes quite an impact for a bunch of 12-14 y.o. kids to remember who you are months after the effect. This is not even the only Scouting event Mark has attended, but he remains is the only commissioner I have ever witnessed present. In addition to this, Mark has attend numerous 4-H events throughout the county. To say Mark works hard at his job would be an understatement, to say he shows loyalty the individuals he represents wouldnt do him justice. But, to say he would careless spend this Countys money is disgusting. Twenty minutes on a thesaurus and I still cant find the right words to describe this article. Though if I ever read such a shamefully low article like this again, I may be forced to poke out my eyes with corndog sticks. Mark is a rare politician because he is honest. I dearly hope his opposition can respect this, and not send out such a derogatory article again.

Kristin Judge

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 1:23 p.m.

@Sean Gray I did vote against tabling the issue, because I wanted to have a public discussion. The tabling stopped the public discussion. The commissioner spending prior to my budget changes was over $70,000 a year for food, mileage, per diem, conferences, books, magazines, newspapers and on average another $5,000 a year for "Miscellaneous". All those costs were cut due the work of Commissioner Smith and I in creating the new Commissioner Flex Accounts. The accounts are now online thanks to the work of our staff and Commissioner Prater and I. We created the Open Book eWashtenaw website so all expenses would be available to the public with the click of a button. Go to: Each commissioner is allotted 1/11th of a now Capped expenditure line item. If a commissioner exceeds their portion, they are allowed by board rules to ask the board for some of the money that will not be spent by other commissioners. When I exceeded my allotted portion, I followed board rules and asked to be reimbursed. When I saw there was not enough support for it, I decided to pay for the overage with personal money. This is a list of some of the benefits to residents from my attendance at state and national conferences: CVS/Caremark Prescription Drug Discount Card for All Residents Brought to County at No Cost. Washtenaw County Cyber Citizenship Coalition Created with Department of Homeland Security Staff. Secured IT Pilot Program to Increase Revenue Collection Using Techology. Attended Workshop by Colorado Commissioners and Brought Back Transparency Initiative - Putting the County Spending Data Online Positioning Washtenaw County for Federal Grants for Cyber Security. We are now being used as a National Model. Creating and Advocating for Legislation on Unfunded Mandates, Public Defense, Recovery Spending Meeting Commissioners from other counties who are involved in collaboration efforts. Learning how to create a regional caucus. Interviewing Federal Lobbyists to help Washtenaw County compete for more grants. Participating as a member of the National Association of Counties Justice and Public Safety Committee. Participating in small-group discussions with Assistant Secretary of Employment and Training Administration, Jane Oates. Met with Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowske to discuss effectiveness of DARE program. Met with Federal Department of Justice Directors to Discuss Training on Cyber Crime for Washtenaw County Officers. Participating as a member of the Michigan Association of Counties Judicial and Public Safety Committee.

Sean Gray

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

To pick up from my last post: The link below is the webcast from the County Board of Commissioner's meeting [9-1-10], where Commissioner Judge asked to have her travel expenses increased, received a rebuke from Commissioner Gunn [D], and then voted 'NO' to having a public discussion re: the details of her request at the following the meeting.

DB Holden

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 1:13 p.m.

This election year we have three signs on our lawn. Rick Snyder, Dr. Rob Steele, and Kristin Judge. In our view, all three has unquestioned intergity and are willing to do the right thing for the people regardless of the political fallout that may occur. As Republicans, we publicly support Kristin Judge, a Democrat, because she has demonstrated with her actions that she is a fiscal conservative. Further, Kristin is a person of unquestioned integrity and is an advocate for the taxpayer ensuring that tax dollars are spent prudently and with transparency. It is unfortunate that she is being subjected to pot shots from a political gadfly. Kristen has demonstrated in her short tenure on the County Board she is willing to take on the "good ol boy network" within the County...note... that "good ol boy network" is comprised of mostly Democrats but also Republicans. Mark Ouimet is an honorable public servant who appears to have exercised bad judgement perhaps unknowing of the policy. David & Raye Holden

Patrick Mcallen

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 1:04 p.m.

Green touts her record of creating jobs and working across aisle but I don't see it. All over town I see Adam Zemke's signs next to Mark's signs the few Green signs that I see are next to Democrats. When it comes to jobs Ouimet's experience far out weighs Green. Which is evidenced by his campaign receiving endorsements from all of the major business groups and Green receiving none.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 12:52 p.m.

The audit Ms. Judge seeks should be prioritized. Commissioners opposing financial clarity may be considered suspect. The abuse potential hidden in $200M is huge.

Sean Gray

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 12:14 p.m.

Allow me finish my thought from the last post, I hit the send button too early. To Commissioner Judge: And in this article you've put yourself in position to be the guardian of the tax payer against excessive spending, but in September you asked the board to give you travel expenses that EXCEEDED your allotment. I recall Commissioner Gunn, a Democrat, was very vocal and was opposed to the idea saying it was money that could go to less fortunate Washtenaw citizens for services and programs. And then when the board asked for a show of hands to table and discuss it further, you voted not to table and discuss at a future meeting. With all due respect, Ms. Judge, this seems to contradict your goal of spending "the taxpayer dollars honestly and wisely."


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 12:04 p.m.

I find it interesting that Ms. Green has not acknowledged the significance of work that Mark has done in and around Washtenaw County, in spite of her claims that her campaign is about issues. Mark has been recognized and awarded for his work, having received the Athena foundation award for his dedication to increasing access to capital for women, enhancing leadership roles for women in business and mentoring women for leadership roles in business, among many others.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11:59 a.m.

You really have to consider the timing of this article. If the county was that concerned about Mr. Ouimet's expenditures as related to his per diem reimbursements, why is it coincidentally just coming to light 3 weeks before the election? I also have been following this election closely. What I have observed is that Mr. Ouimet has been tireless in presenting his views of the issues at community forums. I have personally seen twice in my neighborhood that he has had campaign workers come door-to-door to answer any questions- and this is in a VERY large district. I have not seen nor heard from Ms. Green. Let's talk about which candidate can get the job done- that's what matters most come November. Mark Ouimet has the experience we need to move this county forward.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11:56 a.m.

@electablog the idea of rampant yard sign theft by Ouimet is laughable at best. I assume that you are okay with the vandalism that was done to Mr. Ouimet's billboard?

Sean Gray

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11:51 a.m.

Commissioner Judge, thanks for taking the time to respond. Political motivations are always on the minds of voters. It seems suspect that any policy change that you would have implemented early this year to remedy a problem just happens to come out right before an election. It's often referred to as an "October Surprise." And in this article you've put yourself in position to be the guardian of the tax payer against excessive spending

Mary Comazzi

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11:50 a.m.

What I find most remarkable about the actions of Ms. Green and her supporters is that the timing of the allegations against Mark leave no time for a meaningful investigation which would likely clear Mark of any wrongdoing, clearly not in keeping with the campaign strategies stated by Ms. Green. The attack was timed by someone closely affiliated with Ms. Green's campaign to do nothing more than cast doubt on an otherwise untouchable, successful, and prolific service record, compared to that of Ms. Green. If the interest of the citizens was truly the motivating factor for bringing this information to light, why not blow the lid months ago when the FOIA request was made? An article posted on another site shows that the FOIA information was sent to those behind this attack on May 11, 2010 six months ago! To wait until the weeks leading up to the election to level such an attack shows exactly the motivation behind these allegations. Suggesting wrongdoing with no time for an audit or exposing the truth is classless, and is politics as usual.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11:24 a.m.

I drive by many large Ouimet yard signs they are consistently cut down and sometimes vandalized. In order for signs to be stolen Christine would have to have signs up.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11:21 a.m.

Many citizens of our community are facing foreclosure, unemployment, access to quality health care, and many other problems and here we have two political parties slanging mud at each and making what borders on criminal accusations, all for a political office. As far as I am concerned, there isn't a dime worth of difference between dems and repubs. I am thinking seriously about boycotting this election because I do not see any viable candidates who I feel deserve my vote. Perhaps, when they concern themselves with issues facing our citizens and allow us the voters to select who we want to represent us, then we can get on with the real business of problem solving. Personally, I am tired of the same ole politics of character assignation.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11:19 a.m.

I am truly disappointed in this and anyone who does not recognize this for what it is. Anyone who has had the honor of working with Mark Ouimet in either a professional or volunteer capacity knows how dedicated and passionate Mark is about this community and everyone in it. In addition to his duties as County Commissioner he has given his time, energy, wisdom, compassion, and resources to several area charities. I cannot imagine a single person in this community that has not benefited from his service. That a "smear" such as this had to happen to someone that has given so much is truly heartbreaking to me. Mark Ouimet would never take advantage of the community he is so passionate about


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

@electablog, You're spot on, from personal experience, the smiling hand-shaking Ouimet that the public sees is not the same back-door dealing politico that exists in real life.

Kristin Judge

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11:10 a.m.

@responsibility-the 11 board members are solely responsible for every dollar of the $200million budget. That is why Commissioner Prater and I have been asking for an internal audit and asked for a presentation to the board on our internal financial controls despite some commissioners publicly stating that was "not our job".


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 11:05 a.m.

I'm not 'outraged' by Ouimet's diem indulgences so much as perplexed. Given the very healthy cash flow in his personal houshold, courtesy of career bankering and doctoring, the extra funds he mooched off the county amount to chump change. He has nickel & dimed the public in return for a lot of processed paperwork and, now, the risk of scandal for his campaign. Silly. As a comfortably well-off official making endless small expense claims, his behavior appears strangely compulsive more than anything else. Or perhaps Ouimet slightly misunderstood the inspirational meaning behind the phrase carpe diem. More problematic for me is that his campaign and the county GOP have launched attacks on his opponent based on household financial problems she experienced almost a generation ago, and which were resolved. It is in this context that Ouimet's compulsive mooching elevates to hyprocrisy. Is he claiming here that pilfering the public is fine so long as it's technically legal?


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:54 a.m.

It seems to me that some ownership needs to be taken by the County Clerk Mark submitted the report and they honored mistakes may have been made by both sides. When I submit my expense reports at my job they are looked over and sometimes clarification is needed I see no reason why this did not happen at the county level.

David Briegel

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:48 a.m.

BasicBob, If you know Kris Judge, you know that your allegation is just silly! Aren't you a taxpayer? She saved us money and didn't pat herself on the back!

David Briegel

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:40 a.m.

Mark, it is not your right to 'DONATE" our (taxpayer) money to your charity and take your tax deduction with OUR money. jussayin and Dr I Emsayin are correct as are several others. Kris Judge is outstanding! Sean Gray is not worthy. Chris Green deserves our support!


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:37 a.m.

While appreciate Mr. Ouimet's history of service it does not exempt him from ethical and legal behavior. These accusations, combined with the offensive robocalls & ads being run on his behalf ( and the rampant theft of Christine Green's yard signs throughout the County paint a different picture of a Republican politician than we're getting in these comments. If Mr. Ouimet isn't outspoken against these shady (and, some cases, illegal) practices by his proponents, he rightfully gets tarred with that brush. These comments also seem to disregard Ms. Green's long history of public service. I'll be voting for the Democrat in this race in part because, as the past year or two have shown, even "nice guy" Republicans like Mark Ouimet are not allowed to be "nice guys" once they get to Lansing. Their Republican colleagues, the same ones running the atrocious robocalls and sending the offensive literature, will make sure he falls into line and becomes a "good Republican". Christine Green has the credentials and the interest in the public welfare to make her a fantastic representative for our district.

Basic Bob

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:36 a.m.

@Sean Gray, I agree with you. It is disingenuous to claim that the timing of this public disclosure is not related to the upcoming general election. IMO, the rules were changed arbitrarily to impact the Republican vice chair.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:34 a.m.

These records come out now as a cheap stunt, with a prepackaged interpretation given to us voters. We are not that stupid. The majority on the Board is responsible for the process of approval and reimbursement. What these records show is an elected official working extensively with the community on a host of issues. We need folks like Mark Ouimet who actually spend time listening to the people. Having nothing to do with Mr. Ouimet, there has been a lot of fighting among the majority on the Board over the non-Board meetings and activities of Commissioners. Some who have been on the Board forever say this is a part-time position, would rather hold court as elected advisors and limit the amount of time they spend hearing from the people. Others, who are energetic and of both parties, clearly see it differently. The real issue is that we should expect a log from all of our Commissioners showing their meetings, regardless of whether they are requesting reimbursement. The real reason why this did not surface earlier is likely over the large differences between Commissioners: some of your elected officials are not working terribly hard on your behalf. Vote for candidates who are out engaging and hearing what the people have to say. Don't give the stunt makers the satisfaction by forgetting once the elections are over. Remember when you read the news, that no paperwork submitted may simply mean no activity on the part of your elected official.

Sabrina Gross

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 10:14 a.m.

Mr. Gray is offsides in his criticism of Commissioner Judge's efforts to rein in county spending. Kristin Judge has been hyper-focused on the budget and transparency in government since she was sworn in. She excels in an unparalleled work ethic and honest representation of the facts in dealing with complex financial challenges. Kristin follows through 24-7. Sean Gray is not qualified to serve as a Commissioner with only public service on a neighborhood association. He also surely recognizes the hypocrisy of running as a Republican with his affiliation with the Michigan Education Association. If you are against unions, work at a private school. Commissioner Ouimet's service is appreciated - however, I agree with commenter above that he should simply admit his responsibility, be up front in his answers like Christine Green was, give back the extra, and fix taxes (if necessary).

peg dash fab

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 9:57 a.m.

i am having trouble giving a rat's patootie about ouimet's $25/day per diem. actually i am impressed at his diligence in attending over 1,000 meetings in five years. i have even less interest in green's husband's business tax problems 25 years ago, when she was a student. this is nothing more than an ugly smear. with the campaign defining itself in these terms, voters are left with little more than party affiliation... but that is more than enough for me: if ouimet is willing to stand up and repudiate his political party's social and economic policies, then i might give him a once over. otherwise, i'll consider him (like rob steele) at best a good guy led astray by blind ambition.

Kristin Judge

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 9:51 a.m.

Here is a copy of the current board rules after the changes I implemented in January 2010.

Kristin Judge

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 9:49 a.m.

Thanks Sean Gray for your comment. It is important for the public to know you are my opponent on November 2nd. I did discuss my concerns about the per diems at a board meeting (publicly) and with other commissioners and administration. That is why the policy was changed. Note Mr. Ouimet under the new policy has only charged for 48 meetings instead of 250. The new policy has taken care of the problem. If I changed the policy for political reasons, I would not have done it even before I knew Mark was running for higher office. My only motivation for changing the policy was to protect the taxpayer dollars.

Sean Gray

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 9:26 a.m.

From the article above: "...she said she [Kristin F. Judge], was new to the county board last year and worried about the political ramifications of publicly chastising Ouimet." If the accusations were true, Commissioner Judge had an ethical and moral responsibility to report it, publicly or privately. So we are left only to conclude two things about Ms. Judge: 1. Commissioner Judge placed protecting her political career above doing the right thing, or 2. Commissioner Judge is not telling the truth in this article


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 9:22 a.m.

I have been reading these posts and for the benefit of those who may not understand how the process works the money Mark earns from the county is his it is taxed and he chooses to donate that money to non profits why is he is being lambasted for his generosity.... we need more people like Mark Ouimet


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 9:16 a.m.

It infuriates me Mark Ouimet, an individual who chose the position and who has plenty of money, has found a way to take advantage of it to make more money. In the meantime, the County continues to cut back on road maintenance. Perhaps Mr. Ouimet has such high mileage because he is avoiding all the dirt roads in western Washtenaw County. Perhaps the next time there is a serious accident on an unplowed county road he can donate some of his per diems to the victim's medical costs.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 9:06 a.m.

If the expenses were approved by the county clerk's office, It's obvious even to the casual observer that the county clerks office should be investigated not the commish.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

Christine Green has been introducing herself to the voters by personally walking virtually the entire district since well before the primary season. If she did not knock on your door, perhaps it was because you were a well known Republican contributor and she was not about to waste time when she could be speaking with someone who actually had an open mind. To defend Quimet's behavior in this circumstance is beyond belief. This is clearly an abuse of a situation that had no controls. Fortunately, the controls have been been added. Soon the culprit will be out of office. Let's not put him in a new one with greater responsibilities and opportunities for abuse. And he "gave the money to charity."? Please! A) He would give to a charity even if he didn't misappropriate funds and B) perhaps the voters don't share his choice of charities! Time for Republicans to split their ticket and vote for honesty.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 9:02 a.m.

How we behave when we think no one is watching tells us alot about a public representative & is a big issue. Is it wrong to take additional funds? YES Is it wrong to push the responsibility to "catch" me doing this onto an underling in a office whose budget I approve? YES Is it wrong to take extra $s and then excuse it by saying "I gave it away to charity"? YES [taxpayers like to choose what charities get their $s] Should Ouimet just say i did the wrong thing, Return the excess fees & file Amended Federal & State Tax returns for the last 6 years? Yes "The commissioner doth protest too much... " The wonderful thing about elections is that it does educate us about what is important to who represents us. Christine Green was straight forward in her responses to questions posed. The election for District 52 just became very positive.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

There's a popular joke among those of us that also serve on local boards and committees and that is that Ouimet seems to show up everywhere and actually do we know why. He was cashing a pay check! And padding his resume. It's disingenuous to say that the money received is going to charity. Was the "donation" in name of the Washtenaw County taxpayer you bilked it from?

Dr. I. Emsayin

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:37 a.m.

Ouimet may be good at knocking on doors and being involved in charities, but Green has the brainpower to be our best elected official. And she doesn't charge the citizens for glad-handing, as it appears Ouimet does. It seems somehow a handsome man with name recognition like Ouiment can get away with things such as charging $25 a thousand times too many.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:27 a.m.

Don't we have anything better to do? It is disgusting to hear and read about these accusations going back and forth. Our State needs serious reinventing at a fundamental level. If we don't wake up, we will become a third world country. Mark is by far one of the most committed, engagaged bi-partisan and talented leader representing us. We need right leadership in Lansing to reinvent our State.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:10 a.m.

This seems to be much ado about nothing. The per diem policy was followed. This won't have any effect on my vote.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:07 a.m.

Is this the same Christine Green, the trial lawyer, who defended a disgruntled UM employee in a frivilious law suit? You bet it is! How much money has Green cost the taxpayers by clogging up the court system, time, and resources of UM and othe govt. entities with frivilous lawsuits? Green has lined her pockets at taxpayer expense.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 7:58 a.m.

Is this the same Dowty who dresses up in a chicken costume. This guy is part of the radical left fringe and can we really take him serious????

David Cahill

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 7:57 a.m.

Ouimet is supposed to know the rules on per diems. He broke them, and benefitted himself in the process. He is already personally wealthy. What was he thinking? Just another rich Republican ripping off the public.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 7:42 a.m.

This obvious misreprentation is very disheartening. Mark Ouimet has been such a huge advocate for small business and social responsibility. We are fortunate to have a smart and talented person running for 52nd District. What a sad commentary for our elected government officials to have to go through so much harrassment in order to represent us.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 7:34 a.m.

The telephone calls are immediately deleted from my voice mail and marketing material is simply thrown away. It is unfortunate that a candidate and their supporters have to lower themselves to attacks against their opponents. What concerns me more than allegations of improper reimbursement is the lack of internal controls that would have caught these mistakes when they were submitted and would have prevented payment. Who is guarding the treasury?! If Ouimet has an intent to defraud the tax payers, then he should be prosecuted for that criminal activity. If he made clerical mistakes, then he will probably do the right thing and reimburse the people. We need some oversight on the process, some internal controls. I would like the person who was responsible for approving the payments investigated for misconduct. Politics is a dirty business, which is unfortunate in a democracy. Unfortunately, the politicians make them dirty!!


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 7:02 a.m.

I hope all of you campaigners follow the rules it is getting ugly. What part of my door sign"NO SOLICITING" DO you not understand. What part of your robot nasty calls "DO NOT CALL REGISTRY" do you not understand. My mother is disabled and you knock knock knock ring the bell only thinking of yourselves can someone please explain why they are allowed to annoy, liter on private property solicit, calls 10 -20 a day. We read we know who we want to vote for tired of your trash mailings, trash in our yards and neighborhoods. Sunday is family day at our home and there is a lynch mob of busy body canvasser that want 10 minutes to an hour out of your life.You need to stop!I am feeling there is not just one but many players a lot of corruptness going on.Look at the tax scandal uncover of wealthy people to avoid paying taxes switching property. Wow a napkin and two smart men did all that.

Long Time Resident

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 6:42 a.m.

Wieder is the attack dog of the local democrats. Last weekend he was digging up 18 year old newspaper quotes to try and attack Ouimet. With "October Surprises" like this, no wonder we think so poorly of the electoral process.

Bill Hill

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 5:35 a.m.

Mark has plenty of Democrats who are going to split their ticket and vote for him. This is due to the fact that he has proven he can cast aside party politics, focus on the task at hand and do what is best for the people he represents

Linda Goldstein

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 5:30 a.m.

Mark has personally knocked on my door more than once I have yet to see anyone from Greens camp, let alone the candidate herself at my doorstep. Mark is the hardest working elected official in Washtenaw County plain and simple. We need someone with his leadership and work ethic in Lansing.

Bill Smith

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 5:28 a.m.

I have been following this race very closely and there is one thing that stand out the most to me when Christine speaks she says I feel and I think when Mark speaks it is I know backed up with personal experience or facts and figures. Thoughts and feeling are nice but I prefer my legislators to base opinion and vote and facts and figures

Steven lundburg

Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 5:19 a.m.

"The thing that separates me from all of the individuals I run against, and that now includes Mark Ouimet, is that I am an advocate for issues and I have been for 25 years," Christine Green This quote from Green ignores the long record of public services that Ouimet has. Mark is involved with numerous charities such as Eles Place, United Way and American Red Cross and holds leadership roles in all of them. Christine may be an advocate for issues but Mark is an advocate for people. Christine has discredited years of charitable work by Mark in one sentence and I for one expect better from our public servants