Embattled Macomb Co Clerk Karen Spranger ousted from office by judge

The Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger is being removed from office, effective immediately. 

A judge ruled Tuesday that Spranger violated election law. Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel says this is an unprecedented move for the county. 

"I have never seen such chaos and controversy from a public official," said Hackel. 

Although her shortened term has been filled with chaos and controversy, that is not the reason why she was removed. Spranger lied about where she lived on her election filings. She claimed she lived in Warren when we're told she actually lives somewhere else, possibly in Wayne County. For that reason, she was not legally elected. 

The decision was made by the St. Clair County Judge, which was a result of a counter-lawsuit. Spranger, a Tea Party Republican elected back in 2016, has been accused of creating a hostile work environment and has more than 20 grievances filed against her.

"It didn't have anything to do with her work performance or lack there of, or the disarray in that office," Hackel said. "Yet all of those things were suspect and problematic. The reality of it was something I said in August of last year, was did she violate election law."

When the county first learned that Spranger lied about where she lived, there was concern that if action was taken the public would feel it was motivated by bipartisan politics.

Hackel says all you have to look at is the Republican support of her ousting, including public works commissioner Candace Miller.

"This was not about Karen Spranger's performance in office, her personality, her partisan politics or whatever," said Miller. "It was purely about a violation of Michigan Election Law and as the former Secretary of State, the chief elections officer in the state of Michigan, the judge made the absolute right decision."

Spranger left her office Tuesday for the last time without comment. We're told her Deputy Clerk Jackie Ryan will take over until circuit court judges choose another temporary replacement.

Hackel says many employees are relieved Spranger's controversial reign is over.

"It's a sad day if you stop to think about it," he said. "It really isn't much to be celebrated. However I bet some employees are celebrating in a way, because now they get a chance to go back to the environment they once knew as an award-winning clerk's office. Now they get to go back and try to restore it to the integrity it once had."

For the very short time we're told that the deputy clerk, Jackie Ryan, will be taking over but very quickly, within the next 24 to 48 hours, that the circuit court judges will be appointing a replacement.