Whitmer may be forced to give up $3.4M in excess campaign contributions

click to enlarge Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. - State of Michigan
State of Michigan
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reelection campaign may have to part with $3.4 million in excess contributions by the end of the year, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a court filing.

Whitmer previously claimed she is not beholden to the donation limits normally imposed on candidates because of an administrative ruling that allows officeholders facing recalls to receive unlimited contributions. Since she is the subject of several recall efforts, Whitmer was accepting donations that exceeded the cap of $7,150 per donor.

The Michigan Republican Party filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing that the administrative ruling gives Whitmer an unfair advantage.

In a new court filing, Benson said Whitmer would have to return or donate the excess donations if they’re not used to fight a recall. Of the several recall that have been filed against Whitmer, none is expected to go beyond collecting signatures.

"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," the filing said.

Whitmer has received $8.6 million in contributions for her reelection bid so far this year, breaking a record for the most money raised by a Michigan gubernatorial candidate in an off-year. Her campaign has more than $10.6 million in the bank, giving her a decisive, early fundraising advantage over her Republican challengers. Overall, Whitmer has raised $14.2 million in her reelection bid, which is $1 million more than she raised during the entire 2018 election cycle.

Republicans on Friday pledged to continue fighting the excess 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," Gustavo Portela, spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party, said in a statement. "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."

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About The Author

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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