County commissioner violated campaign law by wearing Trump hat at public meeting, state rules

Zach Lahring. - Kalamazoo County
Kalamazoo County
Zach Lahring.
The Michigan Bureau of Elections issued a formal warning to a Muskegon County commissioner for wearing a Trump 2020 hat during a public meeting in 2019.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Act prohibits public officials from wearing or displaying political campaign material on government property.

The Bureau of Elections received a complaint that Commissioner Zach Lahring displayed a “Trump 2020” hat on his county desk during a public meeting in October 2019 before donning the cap.

“Any piece of clothing that bears the name of a candidate for office inherently expresses support for (or opposition to) that candidate,” Adam Fracassi, an election law specialist at the Bureau of elections, wrote in a letter on Feb. 26. “When such clothing is worn at a public meeting by a public official attending in his or her official capacity, the messages communicated by the official’s apparel become messages communicated in the official’s public capacity."

Lahring contended he did not violate the Michigan Campaign Finance Act because he did not intend to “assist in the reelection of President Trump during board meetings.”

The bureau disagreed, saying the hat “constituted a campaign statement in favor of a candidate during official duties.”

Metro Times couldn’t reach Lahring for comment.

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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