U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin is renting an Old Town condo from Niowave government relations director Jerry Hollister until after the election. Predictably, the Republicans are making their voices hoarse yelling about how something nefarious is going on.
Hollister, after all, could be called a lobbyist, even though he's not. Neither at the federal or state level does he make a living schmoozing elected officials, taking them out to dinner or ball games or whatever.
His job has always been to navigate bureaucratic mumbo jumbo to nail down contracts. He works with elected officials so rarely, he's figured, “Why bother?” when it comes to registering as a lobbyist.
Regardless, you can see how an opposing political party would go bonkers over this. We Lansingites immediately associate the name "Hollister" with politics.
Jerry's dad, David Hollister, was Lansing's gold standard mayor for a decade and a state rep for two decades before that. Jerry sat on the Lansing Community College board and ran for state rep, too.
It's natural for the mind to slide into something scandalous.
Could Hollister be cutting Slotkin a sweet deal in return for some Capitol Hill favors? By the way, why is Hollister still registered to vote at the residence? Could these married individuals even be living together?!? The imagination can run wild!
Or could it simply be that life took Hollister and his wife, Kathy, out of Lansing in 2022? Work demands made a move to Connecticut for a few months a better idea. It also allowed the couple to live closer to their college-aged kids and extended family until December, when they planned on returning.
If the Lansing condo was sitting empty, why not rent it?
Could it be that Slotkin, who represents the soon-to-be-gone 8th District, wanted to move from her family's Holly farm into the new 7th Congressional District she seeks to represent? She could buy a house, but what if she didn't win? She could rent something for 12 months, but if she could find something that runs until a week after the election, that would be even better.
If she wins, she can work with a real estate agent on a longer-term option when the market isn't so crazy. If she loses, she can plan her next life steps with fewer commitments.
A short-term lease would be perfect for both sides.
A couple of points worth making here. First of all, it's surprising two politically savvy individuals wouldn't have seen the arrangement — regardless of how innocent it may be — as something Republican-paid background checkers wouldn't have caught and exploited.
Partisan control of the U.S. House of Representatives may be at stake. That's pretty big time.
But that aside, I'd hope we remember the adage that "you will always find what you're looking for."
If you want to find the worst in people, you can either find it or convince yourself that you have.
In this case, Hollister hadn't met Slotkin more than a time or two before the $2,000-a-month lease started April 15. Even if Hollister's job was to rub shoulders with Congress critters, Slotkin isn't on a committee where a relationship would make much of a difference.
He's given to her campaign before, but if you're a good Mid-Michigan Democrat, that shouldn't be a surprise. Literally, thousands of others have, too.
Besides, the last time Congress kicked out grants for medical isotopes, Niowave received $13 million compared to $35 million to and $37 million grants to two Wisconsin companies.
It's good the question was raised. Quality reporters investigated the matter and presented their findings to the public.
But, from my view, the connection between the two is a stretch that only political imagination can bridge. If we had proof something going on, that would be one thing. At this point, we don't.
The best we have is the coincidence of two people using their personal connections to work out a mutually beneficial deal, which sounds an awful lot like life to me.
(Email Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service at melinnky@gmail com.)
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