Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hit with campaign finance complaint

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) might have just landed herself in even more trouble.

The Washington Examiner reports that a conservative group in Michigan has just filed a campaign finance complaint against the Democratic governor. 

The background

This past week, it was reported that Whitmer’s re-election campaign had raked in $8.6 million so far this year. That amount shattered fundraising records. But there’s a catch.

Campaign finance laws put a cap on the amount of money that a person is allowed to donate to a campaign. Here, the cap was $7,150 per person. Some have alleged Whitmer’s campaign exceeded that cap.

There is, however, an exception to this cap. Courtesy of a 1984 court ruling, the rule is abandoned in the case of recall elections.

The complaint

That doesn’t apply in this case, though — at least, that’s what the Michigan Freedom Fund (MFF) argued in a recent campaign finance complaint filed against Whitmer with the Michigan Bureau of Elections.

“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,” the group said in the complaint.

They went on: “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.”

The key question is what does it mean to “actively” seek a recall. According to the MFF, it means that 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.”

A matter of interpretation

Over the past several months, there have been several recall petitions filed against Whitmer. The state Board of State Canvassers has approved six of these petitions, which have allowed them to continue. None of these petitions have earned enough signatures to force a vote, however, as reports note.

Whether the MFF’s complaint against Whitmer succeeds will depend on the interpretation of the 1980s-era exception to the campaign finance cap. We’ll have to see what the State Bureau of Elections decides.

Whitmer, for her part, has yet to respond to the MFF’s complaint, though she has expressed her belief that she was operating within the rules.

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