Pat Miles, Democratic candidate for Attorney General, filed an official complaint with the Secretary of State on Tuesday accusing his opponent Dana Nessel of "multiple and repeated violations of the Michigan Finance Campaign Act."
At the top of his list in the 68-page document, Miles says Nessel failed to report a single fundraising event in 2017, as required by Michigan law, despite openly advertising at least nine such events during that time period. Miles also alleges Nessel failed to report expenditures and in-kind contributions associated with these fundraisers.
"These violations are negligent at best," Miles said in a statement. "It should alarm all of us that someone who wants to be Michigan's top law enforcement officer either doesn't take the law seriously, or doesn't believe our laws should apply to her."
Angela Wittrock, a spokesperson for the Nessel campaign, told The Detroit News that "every dollar contributed by our supporters has been accounted for and reported." Wittrock said that they inadvertently left a few fundraisers off the disclosure report and will file an amendment to correct it.
Michigan law requires political candidates to report everyone they took money from, but if the candidates have fundraisers they also have to file information on where their fundraisers took place, how much money they raised at the fundraiser, and how much they spent on the fundraising event.
Craig Mauger of the nonprofit Michigan Campaign Finance Network explained that where fundraisers take place shows what groups and individuals are opening up their homes and offices to allow candidates to come in and raise money there.
"For example, if there's a business pursuing a grant from the state and the person who owns that business opens his home for a fundraiser for the person who has influence over whether or not they get that grant, that's a detail that the public should know," he said.
When asked how frequently candidates file amendments, Mauger said, "Speaking from our expertise as a group that monitors campaign finance disclosures very closely – probably more closely than anyone in the state, and I don't know if that's bragging or not – I would say that it's not unusual in general for a candidate to amend their campaign finance disclosure."
Mauger went on to say that sometimes these amendments happen multiple times before "they get it how they should have done it the first time."
"Amendments are not unusual and they're part of the process," he said. "The state allows for this because there's an understanding that candidates are dealing with lots of data and regulations that are tricky and there's an understanding that there will be amendments that have to be made and amendments are very common in general."
Other allegations against Nessel include: accepting illegal corporate contributions and then failing to report them, paying the candidate from the campaign account without reporting or substantiating the payment and running a statewide bus program.
"The fact that this comes directly from Pat Miles himself, and not an unbiased third party, proves just how craven this stunt is, and that he doesn't have any supporters to advocate for him – just himself and his paid staff," Wittrock said. "Not only are these attacks pathetic and ridiculous, they are fundamentally undemocratic. What kind of Democrat files a complaint against a fellow Democrat for working to make certain that every person who wants to participate in the endorsement convention has the opportunity to cast a vote?"
The Secretary of State has received the complaint according to a spokesperson who confirmed the complaint will be reviewed and a decision will be made within five business days to dismiss it or request the Nessel campaign respond to the complaint.