Campaign mailer implies Eaton County Sheriff Reich is a Nazi

Joe Jager: Eaton County cannot afford a ‘Third Reich’ term


A candidate for Eaton Co. sheriff mailed out thousands of flyers that declare electing incumbent Tom Reich to a third term would constitute a “Third Reich” term.

“Third Reich” is widely used to describe the Nazi regime of Adolph Hitler. The candidate, Joe Jager, said he did not mean it to be read that way

“I never gave any thought to the idea that it could be misinterpreted,” Jager said. “I can see now where some people might see a problem. If I had to do it over again, I’d be more careful about the phraseology, but it wasn’t meant to imply anything about him being a Nazi. I guess I’ll just be more careful about my flyers.”

Jager is challenging Reich in the Democratic primary in August. Reich is seeking a third term.

Jager said his campaign mailed about 31,000 copies of the flyer. “It’s time for a change,” reads one side. “Eaton County cannot afford a Third Reich term!” Third Reich is capitalized and in italics.

Jager meant no harm, he insisted.

“I didn’t just catch it,” Jager said. “People reviewing it didn’t catch it. I could care less. Really, I never thought in a million years it could be construed as anything like this. It just wasn’t meant to be an implication of anything.”

Reich didn’t return calls to respond to Jager’s recent campaign efforts. Former state Sen. Rick Jones is running as a Republican against Reich. He said Jager’s flyers were in poor taste.

“I looked at it when it came to my mailbox,” Jones said. “I would not have used that term, but the other side of the flyer did point out some of the problems at the Sheriff’s Department. I certainly would not have used that term and maybe would’ve used a different font, but I still think it’s time for Reich to leave that department.”

Reich was elected Eaton County sheriff in January 2013 and re-elected to a second term in 2017. His law enforcement career spans more than two decades at the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office and includes several different types of positions, as well as a trove of commendations and awards for his service to the community.

Jones was sheriff in before he served in the state House and Senate until he was term-limited in 2018.  He said voters encouraged him to make another run for sheriff because of several perceived “problems” within the department. Jones said local attorney J. Michael Hocking is also in the running against Reich.

“One of my main motivations for running is just to keep deputies on the road,” Jones added. “They cut a lot of deputies over there. Road patrol is way down. I’ve heard some are being mistreated and have very low morale.”

Reich last year told the Lansing State Journal that Jones was a liar and that his department had “no problems.”

Visit for more detailed candidate information as this year’s general election approaches.

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