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CMU launches investigation into staff reportedly linked to TJ Bucholz allegations

Multiple company leaders have resigned
Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 11:21 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - In a post to Facebook on Thursday morning, Downtown Lansing Inc. announced it has parted ways with TJ Bucholz.

The news came after the Detroit Free Press published a story about sexual harassment accusations. Bucholz has shut down his Facebook page and locked his Twitter.

Some of the allegations include:

  • Women describing Bucholz commenting on their appearance and describing them as “hot” or “fat.”
  • Surrounding himself with young female employees who recently graduated college.
  • Keeping alcohol in the workplace and encouraging employees to consume it during business hours.
  • Talking about his marital sex life and birth control methods.
  • Saying it was time to “trade-in” his wife for a younger model.

Bucholz, 50, of Grand Ledge, is a Democratic consultant and worked as a communications director for state agencies during the administrations of former Republican Gov. John Engler and former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

In a Facebook post, Emily Dievendorf, who worked with Bucholz on a campaign, accused him of asking for a threesome

Bucholz has admitted he sent one of the women, Chelsea Coffey, a text message in 2016 that said:

“You’re so (expletive) hot. Marry me,” and another text message in 2017 regarding a photo of Coffey wearing a T-shirt, saying “You certainly look ... um ... healthy,” in an apparent reference to her breasts. Coffey was 22 at the time.

Ashlea Phenicie said Bucholz placed the handgun he regularly brought with him on her desk, repeatedly urging her to “touch it,” in an incident that she saw as a power play loaded with sexual innuendo.

Another former employee, Danielle Sample, said that Bucholz tried to set her up on a date with a friend and Vanguard client shortly after she started working for Bucholz in 2017 as a 22-year-old communications manager. The client was about 15 years older than her.

None of the women said Bucholz ever touched them inappropriately or directly propositioned them for sex.

“For those who I have offended with my comments in the past, I sincerely apologize and can only say that I will continue to work to make amends with those I have hurt and live my life in a more honest and forthright way,” Bucholz said.

Bucholz was on the Board of the Central Michigan Public Relations Society of America and was recently chosen to be the group’s President-Elect. As of Wednesday, March 24, he is no longer listed as a Board member, and the President-Elect position is listed as “Vacant”.

Central Michigan University President Dr. Bob Davies posted a letter to the Presidential Perspective blog. The school also released a statement on Thursday evening. They are currently opening an investigation.

Central Michigan University released a statement regarding Vanguard Public Affairs.
Central Michigan University released a statement regarding Vanguard Public Affairs.(WILX)

Major resignations have taken place in Vanguard just hours after the story broke. Jen Eyer, a partner at Vanguard, announced via Twitter that she would be resigning.

In the early afternoon on Thursday, Central Michigan Public Relations Society released a statement saying:

“As of March 21, TJ Bucholz is no longer on the CMPRSA board. This leadership change was in response to disturbing allegations. As PR professionals, we are all stewards of this profession and have pledged to act ethically in all manners of the trade. -CMPRSA Leadership Team”

Later Thursday afternoon, two Vanguard Vice Presidents, David Lossing, and Beth Bowen, submitted their resignations.

I wanted to share that I have resigned as a Vice President of Vanguard Public Affairs as of today. I'll be setting up a...

Posted by David Lossing on Thursday, March 25, 2021

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