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Ex-Chatfield aides plead not guilty to ‘criminal enterprise’ in Michigan

people in the courtroom
Attorneys for Rob Minard (center) and Anne Minard (back right) entered not guilty pleas on their clients' behalf Wednesday in East Lansing District Court (Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)
  • Anne and Rob Minard plead not guilty to embezzlement and conspiracy charges
  • The onetime aides to former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield are accused of using PAC money to fund their lifestyle and purchases from Gucci
  • Attorney General Dana Nessel says the investigation of Chatfield is ongoing

EAST LANSING — Two aides to former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to embezzlement charges alleging they pocketed $525,000 from political nonprofits and used the money on purchases at Gucci and a trip to Hawaii.

Anne and Rob Minard are a married couple who worked for Chatfield in the Legislature, oversaw his political fundraising accounts and ran a consulting firm called Victor Strategies. They stood mute in 54-B District Court as their attorneys entered separate not guilty pleas on their behalf.


“You are innocent in the eyes of the law, and the court is not going to let you say anything that could come back to haunt you later,” Judge Lisa Babock told the Minards before reading the charges against them. 


The Minards were released on a personal recognizance bond. They’re due back in court for a probable cause conference on Jan. 19. The judge prohibited them from leaving the state without permission and signed a protective order to prohibit the public release of evidence before trial. 

Attorney General Dana Nessel last month said the “power broker” embezzled from political accounts and Chatfield-related nonprofits from 2018 to 2020 through a “sophisticated scheme of fraudulent reimbursements, double-billing, misrepresenting expenses, and falsifying records.”

The Minards each face a series of felony charges on allegations they conducted a criminal enterprise, embezzled funds and files false tax returns, crimes that are punishable by five and 20 years in prison. 

The charges stem from a long-running investigation into Chatfield, a Levering Republican whose sister-in-law first accused him in late 2021 of sexual assault and financial improprieties. 

Through his attorney, Chatfield has denied any criminal wrongdoing, but he remains under investigation, Nessel said last month. 

Most of the Minards’ alleged embezzlement involved the Working Together for a Better Michigan, a political action committee created to support House Republicans in the 2020 election. 

Campaign finance records listed Anne Minard’s sister as treasurer of the PAC, but court records indicate she told investigators she had no active role, and the fund was controlled by Anne Minard. 

The Working Together PAC raised over $1.5 million, including $1.25 million that came from Chatfield PACs also overseen by Anne Minard. 

The couple “converted” more than $470,000 of that “to their own use” by shifting payments to a consulting firm they owned into their personal bank account, Robert Menard, a special agent for the Michigan attorney general, alleged in an affidavit

Investigators also allege Anne Minard used funds from a Chatfield-linked dark money nonprofit called the Peninsula Fund for a series of personal purchases as the former House speaker prepared to leave office due to term limits in November and December 2020. 

The affidavit lists more than $10,000 in Anne Minard credit card purchases from companies like Hugo Boss, Lilly Pulitzer, Lululemon and Spanx, according to the affidavit, which was filed last month when investigators asked a judge for authority to charge the Minards. 

The 29-page document also provides a rare glimpse behind the curtain of Michigan politics, alleging the Minards sought reimbursements for lawmaker flights and meals that were actually paid for by Lansing lobbyists or special interest groups. 


That included $2,160 for Chatfield and senior staffers to dine at Vernales restaurant in Harbor Springs, a bill that investigators say was later paid for by Public Affairs Associates of Lansing, and a $392 Chick-Fil-A order for legislators that was invoiced to a Comcast lobbyist.

In another instance, Rob Minard allegedly sought $2,536 in travel reimbursement from the Institute for Research on Presidential Elections, which in 2018 hosted Chatfield and other lawmakers at a Hawaii junket to advocate for National Popular Vote legislation. Those costs were actually paid for by nonprofits fueled by anonymous donors, according to the affidavit.

“During the investigation, it became clear that there were substantial amounts of non-profit, candidate committee, and PAC money that was being controlled and/or directed by Robert and Anne Minard,” Menard, the special agent for the attorney general, wrote in the affidavit. 

“The evidence established that Robert and Anne Minard converted hundreds of thousands of dollars of this money to their own personal use.”

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