Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) may be forced to return millions in campaign contributions that exceeded individual donation limits, a court filing hinted this week.
Whitmer recently collected some donations as high as $250,000 — blowing past the $7,150 individual limit — by claiming she was under threat of recall. No real recall threat ever materialized. In fact, the chief proponent, Chad Baase, recently revealed that he moved to California.
The allegedly illegal contributions, totaling $3.4 million, are the subject of a lawsuit by the Michigan Republican Party, which seeks to force Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) to make Whitmer give up the funds.
“The governor would be required to disgorge any contributions received in excess of the MCFA (Michigan Campaign Finance Act) limits at that time — months before even the April 19, 2022 deadline for Republican gubernatorial candidates to file their nominating petitions,” Benson’s filing said, the Detroit Metro Times reported.
Dubbing it Whitmer’s “$100,000 Club,” Michigan Freedom Fund said in a September complaint with Benson the group is “comprised of donors who each illegally gave over $100,000 to Whitmer’s campaign in violation of the $7,150 contribution limit in state law.”
According to a Michigan Freedom Fund news release, the complaints were filed against:
- Mark Bernstein, a trial lawyer from Farmington Hills who illegally contributed $250,000 on July 20 after a donation of $7,150 on Dec. 30, 2019
- J.B. Pritzker, the Governor of Illinois, who illegally funneled $250,000 to the Governor on July 8, 2021
- Ronda Stryker from Richland, MI, who illegally funneled $250,000 to the Governor on June 23, 2021
- Patricia Stryker from Fort Collins, CO, who illegally gave $250,000 to the Governor on April 12, 2021
- Stacy Schusterman from Tulsa, OK, who illegally gave $250,000 on April 15, 2021
- Ahmed Boomrod from Dearborn, MI, who illegally contributed $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, MI, who illegally gave $100,000 on April 19, 2021 after a donation of $7,150 on Oct. 28, 2019
- Karla Jurveston from Los Altos, CA, who illegally gave $100,000 on April 29, 2021 and $1,000 on Oct. 13, 2020
- Heidi Stolte from Seattle, WA, who illegally gave $100,000 on May 5, 2021
- Stephen Silberstein from Belvedere Tiburon, CA, who illegally gave the Governor $100,000 on May 10, 2021
“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,” Tori Sachs, executive director of the Michigan Freedom Fund, said in the news release. “Secretary Benson should immediately take action to fine each member of ‘Whitmer’s $100,000 Club’ the amount of their excessive contribution and Whitmer should disgorge the illegal money, along with paying a fine equal to the amount of the illegal donations.”
“Gretchen Whitmer has illegally raised funds in excess of Michigan’s contribution limit by claiming a recall exception for a recall that doesn’t exist,” Michigan Republican Party spokesman Gustavo Portela said Friday, according to the Metro Times. “We’ll fight in court to ensure that campaign finance rules continue to be applied fairly across the board for all candidates running for Governor because no one is above the law.”
Furthermore, even Benson’s office has previously explained that Whitmer should return the excessive campaign donations.
“As has been explained previously … because recall petitioners can raise unlimited funds, so can the governor once a recall is initiated,” Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for Benson and the Department of State, told the Detroit Free Press earlier this year. “However, those funds must be returned or donated if the recall does not become active
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Photo “Gretchen Whitmer” by Larry Lipton.