Advance Notice: Briefs

Rep. Lilly leaves office for lobbying job

By: - June 17, 2022 1:06 pm

Rep. Jim Lilly | House Republicans photo

A West Michigan legislator says he’ll be leaving office prior to his term expiring after landing a job as a lobbyist. 

State Rep. Jim Lilly (R-Park Twp.) announced on Thursday that effective July 1 he will no longer represent the 89th House District, as he will instead be the vice president of government affairs for Spartan Nash, a food distributor and grocery store retailer headquartered in Byron Center.

In a press release, Lilly said he was “excited” about the opportunity.

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

“I have always been passionate about solving problems faced by families and local businesses in our community, and that’s why I know this is the right time to make the transition to work on these issues in the private sector,” Lilly said in the release.

Lilly, who has been in office since 2017, was not able to run again because of term limits.

He was also among a group of Michigan GOP legislators who traveled to Washington, D.C, to meet former President Donald Trump at the White House just weeks after the November 2020 election. The Trump campaign was actively pushing to overturn results in key states like Michigan, which Joe Biden won. 

That trip resulted in a White House meeting with Trump by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and then-House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) that became the subject of speculation as to its purpose. Shirkey and Chatfield said it was to discuss COVID-19 assistance for the state, but tweets by Trump following the meeting focused on his continuing lie about “massive and unprecedented fraud” in the voting. Hundreds of audits and numerous court cases have all verified the outcome of the election.

Despite the highly partisan nature of that episode, Lilly has admirers on the other side of the aisle. Among them is State Sen. Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing), who said Lilly had earned a reputation as a pragmatic and bipartisan legislator. 

“He has been a great partner to work with,” said Hertel. “I always knew that, with Jim, I could find someone willing to put partisan politics aside to get something done. Working together, we’ve made real progress strengthening Michigan’s economy and supporting local communities. I’m glad he’s found a way to continue that work in a new way.”

According to his press release, Lilly timed his departure to have the least possible impact on the Legislature, saying he will only miss a handful of days at the Capitol between when he leaves and before a new representative can step into the position. 

House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) said they will make sure “Rep. Lilly’s constituents are taken care of until a new representative is chosen this fall.”

The 89th House District covers the western half of Ottawa County and includes the cities of Ferrysburg and Grand Haven.

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.