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Attorney General looking into spending by Senate GOP political funds

Michigan Department of Attorney General

The state attorney general’s office has opened an investigation into whether campaign finance laws were broken by two political funds with ties to Michigan Senate Republicans. The case was referred to the attorney general’s office by campaign finance officials over donations made to the ballot campaign to repeal the law that allows Michigan’s health director to declare a public health emergency.

The complaint alleges “Michigan! My Michigan!” and “Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility” were collecting nearly $2.5 million in donations that were then shared with the Unlock Michigan campaign without making required financial disclosures.

Secretary of State spokesperson Tracy Wimmer said election officials launched an initial investigation after that complaint was filed.

“And in this case the determination was made that, yes, there was likely a Campaign Finance Act violation,” Wimmer told Michigan Public Radio. “The department is statutorily obligated to attempt to settle that via a conciliatory agreement. In this case, the parties involved refused to participate in one.”

She said that could easily have settled the dispute.

The Michigan Senate’s top Republican, Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, told The Detroit News, he is the wrong target.

“Though I don’t own, manage or control this account, it is pretty clear from my seat this is 100 percent politically motivated,” he said. “Surprise!”

Republican election attorney Robert LaBrandt is one of the people who filed the complaint. He told Michigan Public Radio a criminal investigation changes the stakes and would allow investigators to trace donations.

“What the Attorney General has the power to do is subpoena the bank records of both these organizations, and I think they’ll find that they support the inferences that the Department of State made,” he said.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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