Inman returns to House, says ‘my brain is clear’ after opioid treatment

By: - September 3, 2019 4:29 pm

State Rep. Larry Inman talks to reporters after a months-long hiatus from the House, Sept. 3, 2019 | Nick Manes

Having completed more than two months of treatment for opioid addiction, indicted state Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) made a return to the House floor on Tuesday, just days after his colleagues formally called for him to resign. 

Inman, who’s accused of trying to sell his vote on a union wage issue last summer and was federally indicted in May, hadn’t attended a House session since the day the indictment was handed down. He declined to discuss the legal matters he’s confronting and maintained his innocence, directing legal questions to his attorney. The treatment, he said, has been successful. 

“So I feel great; my brain is clear; I can think really good,” Inman told reporters on Tuesday afternoon, adding that he has no plans to resign at this point.

“I’m really happy with the results of going through that treatment and so I really wanted to come back again, continue to represent the citizens of the 104th [District in] Grand Traverse County, and continue to be a member of the House of Representatives, and fulfill my term to the end of next year. That is my goal,” Inman said. 

Gideon D’Assandro, a spokesman for state House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering), however, urged Inman to heed the resolution passed last week by the chamber and resign. 

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

He said Inman has no access to his office or staff, who are working under the direction of the House Business Office to handle constituent services for Inman’s Traverse City-area district. 

“The point here is to protect the access to services, some of which are critical services for the people of that district,” D’Assandro said. “So [Inman] showing up back in the office would be a distraction and would threaten interruption of those services. That’s the primary goal, is to keep those services available to people who need them.”

D’Assandro again declined to discuss whether expulsion hearings could be a possibility. 

Inman said he had not spoken with Chatfield in several months, but said he’s considering requesting a meeting in the coming days. It’s unclear if that will happen, however.

Inman has been kicked out of the House GOP caucus and stripped of his committee assignments. 

Inman said he couldn’t recall sending the text messages that have been presented as evidence in court filings. In those messages, Inman allegedly asked union officials to provide campaign contributions for him and 11 other unknown lawmakers in exchange for blocking the repeal of prevailing wage, a policy favored by unions.

Inman wound up voting to repeal the law. In a court filing last week, his attorney, Chris Cooke again pushed for the case to be dismissed because he argues that the case should not be handled at the federal level.

Campaign finance experts have told the Advance the allegations appear to meet the legal definition of attempted bribery.

The indicted state lawmaker, who is serving his third and final term in the state House, also faces a recall petition in his home district. Inman however, shrugs that off, calling the effort a “small group,” and saying he’s only gotten eight postcards urging him to resign. 

“I can’t really measure the public and their wishes, but people right now that I [run] into in Traverse City, in the grocery store and gas stations, they all shake my hand and give me words of encouragement,” Inman said.

Inman said on Tuesday that his addiction stemmed from five surgeries over a span of 24 months. He said he was prescribed the pain medication by his doctor, adding that the opioid treatment “was the one main thing that saved my life.” 

Given his experience going through treatment, Inman said he has a new understanding of addiction and hopes that his fellow lawmakers will work with him to craft legislation geared toward ensuring people recovering from opioids will be able to get back to work. 

“It’s time for this Legislature to be compassionate and understanding for people that have gone through addiction and recovery,” Inman said. 

“It’s just like any other illness, and we need groundbreaking legislation in these chambers to assist people with addiction and recovery, to make sure that when they come back to their employment, that they’re coming back with open arms, and their job is waiting for them,” he continued. “You know, it’s a problem in the state, It’s a problem in the country and we aren’t doing enough to combat opioid addictions.”

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.