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Conservative group files campaign finance complaint against Gretchen Whitmer

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 7/29/2021 Carly Roman
Gretchen Whitmer who is smiling and looking at the camera © Provided by Washington Examiner

A conservative group in Michigan has filed a campaign finance complaint against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, alleging she received illegal contributions during her recent record-breaking fundraising haul.

The Michigan Freedom Fund, which "fights to champion conservative policies on behalf of Michigan taxpayers," filed a complaint Wednesday with Michigan's Bureau of Elections outlining Whitmer's "illegal scheme ... to evade and eviscerate Michigan candidate contribution limits," arguing contributions from at least 154 individual donors to Whitmer's campaign violate state election laws.

"The Whitmer Campaign has admitted to these wholesale violations of the MCFA’s contribution limitations, but claims that there is an exception to contribution limits for officeholders facing a recall election," Victoria Sachs, executive director of the MFF, said in the complaint, which was reviewed by the Washington Examiner. "However, even if such an exception exists, there is no recall of Governor Whitmer currently being actively sought, a condition precedent to any claim to the potential contribution limit exception for recall elections. Whitmer's illegal scheme is inconsistent with the text and purpose of the [Michigan Campaign Finance Act], absurd, unfair, and could not have been intended by the Legislature."


Sachs said a recall of Whitmer is not being "actively" sought because "to actively seek a recall election, [a committee] must first get petition approval from the State Board of Canvassers then collect 1,062,647 signatures from registered voters within 60 days."

"Governor Whitmer’s scandal plagued Spring has led to sinking poll numbers and growing calls for her to be removed as Governor, but an upset constituency is not the legal standard here. In fact, there are no political committees that are or were actively seeking the recall of Governor Whitmer," the complaint continued, calling on the Bureau of Elections to "swiftly investigate the Whitmer Campaign's illegal circumvention of the contribution limits" to ensure other candidates don't "also take advantage of the newly created 'Whitmer Loophole!!'"

A representative for Whitmer did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner's request for comment about the complaint.

On Tuesday, it was reported Whitmer's campaign broke fundraising records, raking in $8.6 million from Jan. 1 to July 20. Although the amount an individual donor could give would normally be capped at $7,150 per person, Whitmer was able to circumvent that limit via a 1984 ruling that carved out an exception for recall elections.

Whitmer called for campaign finance reform in acknowledging the large fundraising sum but said her recent actions comply with state law as it stands.

"I think you know we need, we need reform when it comes to political contributions," she said at a press conference Tuesday. "But so long as the rules are what they are, I'm going to make sure that I always abide by the rules but that I am gonna run hard, just like I do everything. When I set my mind to something, we're going to see it through."


A handful of recall petitions have been filed against Whitmer, but they have not yet earned enough signatures to force a vote. However, in May, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled the state's Board of State Canvassers "correctly" approved the six recall petitions against Whitmer and one against Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, allowing the recall efforts to proceed.

Other Democratic governors facing recall efforts have similarly invoked state laws regarding recalls to raise more cash than would be allowed under normal campaign circumstances. Gov. Gavin Newsom raised millions from deep-pocket donors because his recall fight, set for Sept. 13, is considered a ballot initiative rather than an election governed by California campaign finance laws.

Tags: News, Gretchen Whitmer, Campaign Finance, Michigan, Governor

Original Author: Carly Roman

Original Location: Conservative group files campaign finance complaint against Gretchen Whitmer


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