News Story

Union President's Email Tells Members to Get 'Everyone We Know to Vote For Democrats'

Legal Analyst: Political partisanship 'crossed the line'

A union president of school employees sent an email that appears to be from her work email asking school employees to get "everyone we know to vote for Democrats.”

Debbie Bence, president of the Plymouth Canton Cafeteria Association, sent the email June 4 at 7:11 a.m. to "Food Services — Managers." The email could violate the state's campaign finance law that prohibits districts from using school resources in expressing advocacy in an election, according to one legal expert.

"When you start saying, 'You need to go vote for Democrats,' that is where you crossed the line," said Eric Doster, the general counsel for the state Republican Party. "You do have a violation there."

Bence didn’t respond to a voice message left on her work phone. Plymouth Canton School Superintendent Jeremy Hughes didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

The email in question that was sent to the food services managers included an attachment that included MEA President Steven Cook’s comments on the emergency manager's plan to turn Muskegon Heights Public Schools into a charter school district.

Bence's e-mail read:
PCCS Local Presidents,

"You might want to share this with your membership. This is what an EFM can do once they take over a district. This is the future for public education in Michigan with a Republican Governor and legislature. If our members do not get out to vote in November, we have no one to blame but ourselves for not voting and getting everyone we know to vote for Democrats."

The law states that school districts that violate the law could face a fine up to $20,000 for the misdemeanor. But a Michigan Capitol Confidential analysis done last year of campaign finance violations from 2006-2010 found that school districts were only fined $100 for breaking the law. 

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.