Michigan State Senator Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) on Thursday introduced a bill to close a campaign finance loophole that has allowed Governor Gretchen Whitmer to rake in millions of dollars through questionable donations.
Whitmer, pointing to a ruling from 1983, claims she had the right to haul in donations over the $7,150 individual limit due to a threat of a recall campaign.
However, no credible threat of a recall ever materialized in the state.
Runestad’s measure, Senate Bill 788, would require a leader under threat of a recall to place money raised for the recall effort into a separate, specified account. Additionally, the candidate would be forced to return donations not spent by the committee during the campaign.
“Finance reports filed in July and October showed our governor has stockpiled millions from jumbo-sized contributions — including some in the six-figure range — above the $7,150 individual limit currently set for gubernatorial campaigns,” explained Runestad. “The legislation I introduced will protect against the abuse of the campaign finance loophole used by Gov. Whitmer to raise unconventional amounts of funds against unrealistic recall attempts.”
Specifically, at least nine individuals gave the incumbent governor $100,000 or more in a single donation. Of those, five donors wrote a check for $250,000, including Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.
“The governor’s unorthodox fundraising efforts go directly against measures set forth to ensure fair elections in this state,” Runestad said. “Soliciting mega-donations to fight against imaginary recalls is misleading to donors and, ultimately, harmful to voters, who should be able to trust that candidates are playing by the same rules and are competing fairly.”
Whitmer’s actions have caused blowback and initiated at least one legal complaint. Earlier this year, the Michigan Freedom Fund organization filed a formal campaign finance complaint against Whitmer’s donors.
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