Michigan Lawmaker to Stand Trial

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Twelve jurors and an alternate were chosen Tuesday in the trial of a high-ranking Democratic state lawmaker who is accused of felony perjury and not filing campaign finance reports.

Rep. George Cushingberry Jr. of Detroit heads the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Opening arguments are scheduled to begin Thursday in Ingham County Circuit Court.

The charges were brought in 2005 by Republican Attorney General Mike Cox, who charged Cushingberry with campaign finance violations stemming from Cushingberry's 2004 election to the state House. Cox says the lawmaker was lying when he turned in statements declaring that he had met filing requirements of Michigan's campaign finance law.

Cushingberry, who was in the courtroom for jury selection, has pleaded not guilty.

"You can make a mistake and not be lying," said Gerald Evelyn, Cushingberry's attorney.

The state constitution bars anyone convicted of a felony involving a "breach of the public trust" from serving in the Legislature. If the 54-year-old Cushingberry is convicted, it would take at least 73 votes in the 110-member House to expel him. Democrats have a 58-52 edge in the chamber.

If convicted of the perjury charge, Cushingberry faces up to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine.

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