CORUNNA — A Shiawassee County commissioner apparently sent sexually inappropriate text messages to a Pleasant View employee in 2020 offering her a job with the county, according to Freedom of Information Act records obtained by The Argus-Press.
The messages, provided by Pleasant View Director Shana Espinoza in response to a records act request, show that Commissioner Jeremy Root, R-District 5, sent dozens of text messages to at least three women, offering to give at least one of them a job with the county. None of the women were hired by the county.
Espinoza told The Argus-Press she has turned over information in the case to the Shiawassee County Prosecutor’s Office. Prosecutor Scott Koerner declined to comment.
Several county officials have told The Argus-Press a criminal investigation has been opened into Root’s alleged actions.
County board chair Greg Brodeur said county officials are aware of the situation.
“I have to tell you that I probably am not aware of all the details, but I heard about this weeks ago,” Brodeur said. “As a matter of fact, the county has started an investigation. There’s only so much I can say. The prosecutor is in possession of materials regarding anything criminal going on. We don’t want to interfere with the process. There is an investigation pending. If these allegations are true, I wouldn’t have any choice but to call for (Root’s) resignation. If it’s true, then Root should do the right thing and resign. We don’t in any way approve of this sort of thing going on.”
Commissioner Marlene Webster, R-District 1, echoed Brodeur’s call for Root to step down from his position as a county commissioner.
“I am calling for Root’s resignation,” Webster said. “The people of Shiawassee County deserve a higher standard of integrity from their elected officials.”
According to texts between Root and one woman, whom the Argus-Press is not identifying, Root sent numerous texts to the Pleasant View employee, offering her a position with the county beginning in December 2020.
“When can I start,” the woman’s text asks.
“Dec. 7,” Root replied. “That’s with pants on as normal though. Without pants on you can start now.”
Root has not responded to numerous emails and a voicemail left seeking comment.
In another text exchange between Root and the same woman, Root says he “could probably make one special exeption for (her).”
In those texts, Root went on to describe various potential acts, including “slapping her ***” while at work.
Th messages apparently were saved via screenshots and sent by fellow commissioner Cindy Garber, R-District 7, to Espinoza.
“That is correct that Cindy Garber submitted the information to me,” Espinoza said via email. “I do believe she was the one that took the pictures as well, though I did not see her do that myself.”
The female Pleasant View employee who was texting with Root also would not comment.
Garber and Root allegedly had an on-and-off again romantic relationship since at least summer 2018, according to various sources, including Garber’s ex-husband. Garber and Root jointly opened a Lego store near Morrice in 2021.
One of the women Root messaged, whom The Argus-Press is not identifying, was the same woman involved in an early-morning incident in 2020 at the Owosso McDonald’s parking lot in which Root was involved.