by Bruce Walker
Designating 10 major donors to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer the “$100,000 Club,” the Michigan Freedom Fund on Tuesday filed a formal campaign finance complaint.
The Center Square is the first news outlet to report the MFF complaint, which asserts 10 donors violated state law by donating more than $100,000 to Whitmer.
MFF took the dollar amounts and donor names from Whitmer’s July Campaign Finance Statement filed with the Office of the Secretary of State. According to state law, political officeholders facing recall efforts are allowed to collect unlimited donations – but no recall efforts are currently underway for Whitmer. Absent that exception, the state campaign contribution limit is $7,150.
Among those donors named in the MFF complaint are attorney Mark Bernstein and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
MFF Executive Director Tori Sachs filed the complaint with the Bureau of Elections, a division of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office. This past July, Benson received and returned an illegal excessive contribution of $6,150 from trial lawyer Mark Bernstein, while retaining the $7,150 legal contribution limit. On the same day, Whitmer collected $250,000 from Bernstein after he’d donated $7,150 to the governor in December.
The complaint notes Bernstein is the president and managing partner of the Sam Bernstein Law Firm, a firm whose advertising claims to “fight to make sure everyone gets a fair shake.” Sachs writes in her complaint: “In this case, a fair shake is applying Michigan’s contribution limits fairly to all contributors, and when they intentionally violate the law – like Bernstein – making them pay the usual penalty of 100% of the illegal contribution.”
Pritzker, meanwhile, donated $250,000 to the governor on July 8.
Sachs asks the secretary of state to force the governor to relinquish any amounts from a single donor exceeding $7,150, as well as pay a fine equal to the illegal amount.
“Whitmer’s $100,000 Club is comprised of far-left liberals who illegally gave Whitmer’s campaign six-figure donations – a violation of state law that limits the amount a person can give to $7,150,” Sachs said.
MFF’s complaint names nine additional illegal donations besides Bernstein and Pritzker, including:
- Ronda Stryker from Richland, Mich., donated $250,000 on June 23, 2021
- Patricia Stryker from Fort Collins, Colo., donated $250,000 on April 12, 2021
- Stacy Schusterman from Tulsa, Okla., donated $250,000 on April 15, 2021
- Ahmed Boomrod from Dearborn, Mich., donated $50,000 on May 19, 2020, $55,000 on July 8, 2021, and $2,500 on June 14, 2021 after donating $7,150 on June 4, 2019
- James Offield from Harbor Springs, Mich., donated $100,000 on April 19, 2021 after a donation of $7,150 on Oct. 28, 2019
- Karla Jurveston from Los Altos, Calif., donated $100,000 on April 29, 2021 and $1,000 on Oct. 13, 2020
- Heidi Stolte from Seattle, Wash., donated $100,000 on May 5, 2021
- Stephen Silberstein from Belvedere Tiburon, Calif., donated $100,000 on May 10, 2021
According to Sachs, each of the individuals named in the MFF complaint violated MCL 169.252 by making excessive contributions to the Whitmer campaign.
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.