DETROIT - Hundreds of emails from Attorney General Bill Schuette's Lansing staff are set to be released Wednesday amid allegations that his people are politicking on state time.
Liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan is suing Schuette for running his office as a political enterprise. The emails are part of a subpoena in that suit.
Schuette and his staff have repeatedly denied the claims and won in court Tuesday when a judge quashed Progress Michigan's request for more staff records.
Local 4 obtained three of the emails, but there are hundreds more to follow from Schuette and his staff over an eight-year period. The three emails are from the personal email accounts of Schuette and his staff members.
The emails were sent during business hours. For example, one from Schuette sent to congratulate his team on an excellent showing at a campaign event -- a barbecue in the Upper Peninsula -- was sent at 10:53 a.m. Thursday, May 28, 2015.
The two emails from Schuette staffers were also sent during regular business hours for the attorney general's office. The contents of both emails deal with campaign-related issues.
Michigan law forbids campaigning on state time. Schuette and his staff members have always maintained that any emails similar to these were sent off state time -- on vacation, during lunch or on a day off from the office.
Progress Michigan said it has hundreds of similar emails spanning years.
"I think the emails we've released tonight, that you've seen, show a consistent pattern of AG staff conducting campaign business during their public time," a Progress Michigan spokesperson said. "These are things that are happening Monday through Friday through the 9-to-5 hours, and the average person in Michigan doesn't get to just sit at their job and do other things to advance their own career."
Schuette spokeswoman Andrea Bitely wrote off Progress Michigan's press conference Wednesday, saying, "We're a week out from the primary election and Progress Michigan is just playing political games."
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