Committees will pay over $225,000 for campaign finance law violations

Image: Campaign Finance

FEBRUARY 23, 2009

Secretary Land says fines send strong message

Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land today announced that three political fundraising committees are paying a total of $225,250 for violating Michigan's Campaign Finance Act.

The penalties are part of conciliation agreements signed by the Department of State and the Senate Democratic Fund, Mark Schauer for State Senate committee and the Committee to Elect Bob Schockman.

"Michigan's campaign finance laws serve the public by illuminating the political contribution process," Land said. "Nobody wins when those laws are flouted. The transparency they provide is essential to a healthy, vigorous democracy. These fines will reassure all voters that their interests are being protected. They also send a clear message that no one is above the law."

The agreements resolve violations stemming from the 2006 state Senate races. Contributions to the Senate Democratic Fund by the Schauer and Schockman campaigns violated the annual $20,000-per-person limit to caucus committees. The Schauer and Schockman committee actions, as well as the Senate Democratic Fund's acceptance of the excess contributions, prompted then-Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema to file campaign finance complaints with the Department of State.

The fines reflect the total amount of the excess contributions and $1,000 per violation. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Senate Democratic Fund (SDF) -- The SDF agreed to return $202,250 to the Mark Schauer for State Senate committee. That's the amount of the improper contributions made by the committee. The SDF also paid a fine of $10,000, which equals $9,000 for each of the nine occasions on which it accepted excess contributions plus $1,000 for violating a previous conciliation agreement.
  • Mark Schauer for State Senate -- $208,250 total, which equals the amount of the excess contribution as well as $6,000 for each of the six separate violations.
  • Committee to Elect Bob Schockman -- $7,000 total, which equals the amount of the excess contributions plus $1,000 for violating the Campaign Finance Act.

The initial complaint involved 13 candidate committees, nine of which previously were dismissed because their excess contributions were returned as allowed by law and one was previously resolved via the conciliation process.