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Cambensy clarifies letter concerning NMU Foundation

JENN HILL

MARQUETTE — Jenn Hill, a candidate for Michigan House 109th District and current Marquette city commissioner, on Friday released statement regarding a letter released Thursday by state Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette, to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Cambensy requested an opinion on whether the NMU Foundation is considered a public body, therefore subjecting the charitable arm of Northern Michigan University to the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act surrounding the gift of the old Marquette General Hospital site by LifePoint and the sale to Veridea.

Cambensy also asked if the information regarding the appraisals and taxable evaluations of the property could be made public to assure taxpayers that the private real estate sale that fell through between LifePoint and Veridea in 2019 did not seek to devalue the property in any way by now involving the NMU Foundation, and selling the property first to the non-profit for $1.

Hill said that in the letter, Cambensy erroneously alleged “conflict of interest” around a campaign contribution in a “desperate attempt to boost Hill’s opponent whom Cambensy endorsed, less than a week before election day.”

“I am deeply disappointed by Rep. Cambensy’s false accusations against me and one of my supporters in a letter to Attorney General Nessel,” Hill said. “One of the donors to the campaign is named Mahaney. However, this person is not married to the CEO of Veridea, Robert Mahaney.

JOE BOOGREN

“Rep. Cambensy could have learned this herself by simply comparing the address on the campaign finance filing to the address for Robert Mahaney’s wife’s and seeing that they do not match.”

This error needs to be corrected, she said.

Hill is a Democratic candidate for the 109th District Michigan House seat, along with Joe Boogren of Gwinn

“Our current state representative showed us how little work she is willing to put in before lobbing false information to help a political ally via a letter of complaint on official letterhead to the attorney general,” Hill said. “This misuse of taxpayer dollars cannot stand, and the people deserve better. If elected, I will spend my time addressing real problems impacting families’ daily lives: the need for affordable housing, reproductive rights, worker protections, access to child care and lowering costs of utilities and prescription drugs.

“People want more from their elected officials than attacks. As I knock on doors in all four counties of the 109th District, I am hearing again and again that people are so tired of the fighting and the sharp partisan divide. We need leaders who bring people together to find solutions for the tough problems we have. I will work to ensure that no one is left behind.”

Cambensy on Friday issued a follow-up letter to Nessel regarding the letter’s error.

“It has come to my attention that there is an error in question 14 of the letter that was submitted to your office yesterday,” Cambensy said. “There appears to be two people with the same first and last name in the Marquette area with only one having donated to a state representative candidate. That donation came from a person unrelated to the immediate family of the Veridea CEO.

“We regret that we did not have more details differentiating the two people with the same name at the time the letter was submitted to your office. We believe that the donation previously mentioned in question 14 no longer appears to represent a conflict of interest and wish to exclude that question.”

NMU said in a Friday email that its leadership received Cambensy’s letter on Thursday, the same day it was released publicly.

“The details provided in the letter are under review,” an NMU spokesman said. “The hospital redevelopment project is an NMU Foundation effort. The NMU Foundation is a separate entity with their own leadership and governing board.”

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.

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