By Daniel Bethencourt
Robert Davis, a self-described corruption crusader who has also been jailed on embezzlement charges, has filed his latest lawsuit alleging faulty governmental practices.
This one claims that his free speech rights were violated because his efforts to recall Gov. Rick Snyder were unanimously rebuffed by a state board.
Davis is also claiming that Michigan's process for filing recall petitions is flawed, and he seeks compensatory damages for the violation of his rights.
The dispute began earlier this month, when Davis tried to file his two separate recall petitions against Snyder over the handling of the Flint water crisis.
Davis' requests went to the State Board of Canvassers, which is tasked with approving the language of the petition before it can be circulated for signatures. But the board unanimously rejected both petitions.
Davis wasn't the only one. The board made news when it rejected a total of seven similar petitions, though it did grant one that sought to recall Snyder.
But Davis wasn't satisfied. In the federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, he argues that the board should not be allowed to approve his own efforts to circulate a petition in the first place.
Davis is no stranger to controversy.
The self-proclaimed reformer has decried corruption in government and has filed a series of lawsuits in the past. He was among the most vocal opponents of the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings.
In December 2014, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for embezzling $200,000 from Highland Park schools, where he was a board member. It was the very sort of crime he railed against.
U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow concluded that Davis abused the public trust and acted out of greed.
The prison sentence didn't seem to stop Davis from challenging authority. In September, while he was still in prison, he sent in a proposal for a petition to recall Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, according to the lawsuit. That petition was also rejected.
Free Press Staff Writer Tresa Baldas contributed reporting.
(c)2016 the Detroit Free Press