Macomb County commissioner concerned over Prosecutor Eric Smith's request for attorney

Smith under investigation over spending of forfeiture funds

MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. – A Macomb County commissioner is sharing her concerns after Prosecutor Eric Smith asked the county to foot the bill for an outside attorney.

Macomb County already has its own lawyers on the payroll, and Commissioner Veronica Klinefelt believes it's a bold move by Smith, considering he's already under investigation for misspending money.

The searches at Smith's office and home were part of the forfeiture fund investigation.

"I don't know what the hurry is," Klinefelt said.

She told Local 4 Smith wants his own lawyer to decide how to handle Freedom of Information Act requests about the investigation.

"Obviously, there's been a breakdown of trust between the corporation counsel and the prosecutor's office from the prosecutor's perspective," Klinefelt said. "So he was asking for an attorney for some specific cases, as well as some possible things they are looking at."

She said she would vote against the request, citing a lack of transparency.

"From my perspective, putting it on today's agenda was expediting it, not giving us the opportunity to look into the details of each request," Klinefelt said.

Local 4 went to the prosecutor's office Wednesday to ask him about the request, but he wasn't in and didn't return messages.

Klinefelt greenlighted the forensic audit and is glad to see Michigan State Police officials and the forensic audit going side-by-side.

"Doing a thorough investigation is the best thing we could do," she said.

Smith isn't asking for an attorney to defend him in the investigation. His brother is the county commission chair, who decides whether items stay or go on the commission agenda.

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