James "Jase" Bolger, the speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, wasn't too well known outside his home state until June, when he dropped a bomb into the culture wars. Bolger and other House leaders imposed a one-day censure on Rep. Lisa Brown -- meaning she wasn't allowed to speak in that chamber for a day -- after she uttered the word "vagina" during a floor speech in opposition to an antiabortion bill. Setting aside Bolger's odd discomfort with anatomy, and his disdain for free speech, he was involved in a far more troubling (if less headline-generating) scandal the following month. A Kent County prosecutor issued a report showing that Bolger conspired with Rep. Roy Schmidt on an elaborate dirty trick to ensure Schmidt's reelection and defraud voters. Schmidt, a Democrat, suddenly switched his party to Republican just before the filing deadline to run for his seat. To ensure that he had no real Democratic opposition, he and Bolger apparently conspired to recruit a part-time college student to file as his Democratic opponent -- Schmidt's son reportedly offered the student $1,000 to pretend to be a candidate. Bolger has admitted his involvement but so far isn't facing any charges because this kind of gamesmanship isn't illegal. Bolger's political standing has suffered in the intervening months, but his is a safe Republican district and he has a strong chance of surviving in November.
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