With Michigan’s gubernatorial election looming ahead, Progress Michigan, a Lansing-based progressive organization that works to hold government officials accountable, is calling on Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to investigate Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s absences from the state Senate in 2013 and 2014.

In his state constitutional role as president of the state Senate, Calley missed 61 of 177 session days to travel to Harvard University one day a week to pursue a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Calley said he was paying for the transportation and education himself, although Progress Michigan says it is now questioning whether he used public funds to pay for these expenses.

Progress Michigan is also asking Schuette to investigate if Calley ever paid the state back for missing a third of Senate session days. In a recent press release, Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, says it is essential to know if Calley put in the proper amount of work for taxpayers.

“Bill Schuette has the power to get to the truth of the matter and let us know if Calley was serving himself instead of working for the people of Michigan and if he ever paid back the state for hours he was off when he should have been working for taxpayers,” she said.

Though the story of Calley’s absences broke in 2014, Schuette never questioned Calley for his absences, and they ran on the same ticket in the 2014 gubernatorial race.

Now Calley is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination against Schuette and is joining Democrats in publicly criticizing Schuette for having political staffers on the state payroll.

Calley is calling on Schuette to take four “constituent relations” staffers off of the state payroll, and Progress Michigan is separately arguing that Schuette is violating U.S. law.

“Forcing taxpayers to subsidize any officeholder’s political ambition is a clear and disturbing breach of the public’s trust,” Calley said in a public statement. “Attorney General Schuette should immediately move the gubernatorial campaign field staff exposed in the story off the government payroll and refund the state for all taxpayer funds that were misspent on political purposes.”

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