Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gained national prominence last year for voicing opposition to then-President Donald Trump and enacting especially strict lockdown measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Now, according to Breitbart, she is facing allegations that she has exploited a decades-old secretary of state opinion to sidestep state campaign finance laws passed by the legislature.
“She believes the rules don’t apply to her”
The accusation stems from a formal complaint filed on Wednesday by the conservative Michigan Freedom Fund (MFF).
According to the group, Whitmer raised millions of dollars in contributions that greatly exceeded the state’s limit of $7,150 per donor.
Specifically, the complaint contends that 154 donors contributed a combined $3.4 million to the governor’s re-election campaign — including at least five individuals who contributed at least $250,000. MFF Executive Director Tori Sachs explained the group’s assertion in a statement.
“Gov. Whitmer is deliberately breaking the law and illegally taking millions of dollars from Hollywood and New York elites because she believes the rules don’t apply to her,” she said.
As a result, Sachs concluded that Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s current secretary of state, “must compel Whitmer to immediately return the illegal contributions and issue sanctions on Whitmer’s campaign that are aligned with the most egregious illegal scheme in violation of contribution limits in Michigan history.”
“Just a bunch of people talking”
The Whitmer campaign disclosed on Monday that it had raised more than $8.6 million since the start of the year, but reports confirmed that roughly $3.4 million came from individual donors who exceeded the $7,150 limit.
Of course, the governor’s office insists that the campaign did nothing wrong, citing a 1983 opinion from Michigan’s then-Secretary of State Richard Austin. At that time, he asserted that officeholders fighting an active recall effort should be allowed to accept donations in excess of state-imposed limits since groups pushing for the recalls were not similarly constrained by donation caps.
The MFF, on the other hand, described Whitmer’s fundraising efforts as “the largest money grab ever seen in Michigan to ignore contribution limits,” arguing that Austin’s opinion does not trump the limits imposed by state legislators.
Furthermore, Sachs pointed out that none of the recall efforts against Whitmer are still “active.”
State Rep. Sarah Lightner, who co-chairs the Michigan House Republican Campaign Committee, agreed, claiming: “These are not active recall elections — they are just a bunch of people talking about doing one someday. By this broken standard, anyone could draft recall petitions against legislators they support and allow them to solicit unlimited dollars to double or triple their fundraising.”