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Former official says election ‘tainted’

By Charles Sercombe

This year’s City Council election just got a jolt of drama.

But it appears it will just as quickly fizzle out.

Former Councilmember Scott Klein filed a complaint with the Hamtramck City Clerk’s Office over candidate Dilshad Chowdhury being on the ballot. Klein said Chowdhury violated state law by seeking election because he is an employee with MGM Casino.

Klein said that, according to state law, casino employees are barred from political activity.

As a result, Klein says, the August Primary Election was “tainted,” and the results should be thrown out. Klein also said there should either be another Primary Election held or all candidates (except Chowdhury) should be allowed to appear on the November ballot.

A representative from the Secretary of State’s Office said they are unaware of a law forbidding casino employees from seeking public office. The representative said state law forbids managers and gaming commission boardmembers from contributing to campaigns.

Hamtramck City Clerk Ed Norris said he turned the complaint over to City Attorney James Allen. Allen could not be reached for comment, but he previously told The Review that he is pretty sure there is a law forbidding casino employees from working at a casino if they run for office or become an office holder.

The basis of Klein’s complaint is from the state’s law on the gambling commission board (MCL 432.204d part 14), which says:

A member, employee, or agent of the board shall disclose his or her past involvement with any casino interest in the past 5 years and shall not engage in political activity or politically related activity during the duration of his or her appointment or employment.

Klein said the way he interprets that passage is that an employee of the board includes employees of casinos since casinos are under the control of the board.

But Klein also concedes he could be wrong.

“The law is unclear,” Klein said. “It depends on the definition of what an employee of the board means.”

Klein also said he wants the issue cleared up to dispel rumors circulating around town that Chowdhury has to step down from his job. He also conceded it would be “absurd” to bar “low-level employees” at casinos from being involved in politics.

Chowdhury earlier told The Review he had checked with his manager at the MGM Casino and was told he could run for office because he is not a manager.

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