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AG Nessel: Weiser's $200,000 Campaign Finance Violation Isn't Criminal

LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel will not charge Ron Weiser criminally for using Michigan Republican Party (MIGOP) funds to pay Stan Grot for withdrawing from the 2018 Secretary of State race. 

Last month, Weiser, chairman of MIGOP, agreed to pay a $200,000 fine after a review by the Michigan Department of State determined seven payments made from the MIGOP's administrative account to Grot violated the Michigan Campaign Finance Act.  The payments, totaling $200,000, were made between Aug. 2018 and Feb. 2019. 

The fine was paid through a conciliation agreement, and because there has been no violation of that agreement, it bars additional criminal action by the Department of Attorney General. 

Additional legal analysis was done to determine if any other criminal statutes could apply to the payoff or against Weiser as the payor.  

In short, Weiser's roles as chairman and previously as party delegate do not qualify him as a public official under Michigan law and therefore he cannot be criminally charged as such. 

"Paying a candidate for office to withdraw from a statewide election is no doubt insidious behavior that diminishes and undermines our democracy," Nessel said. "However, under the circumstances presented, Mr. Weiser's use of political party funds to manipulate the nomination for the office of Secretary of State for the 2018 Michigan Republican Convention did not allow for criminal charges to be generated. Irrespective of the political actors or parties involved, the Public Integrity Unit of my department will continue to investigate and review allegations of corruption when presented. The fate of free and fair elections in our state demands no less." 

The analysis noted in part, "This position is not statutorily created, requires no oath and is not invested with any sovereign function of the government. Our government does not require the creation or maintenance of political parties.... As the Chairman of the MIGOP there is no delegation of a portion of the sovereign power of government. The MIGOP does not serve a government function.... The powers and duties held by Mr. Weiser are not legislatively determined.... In sum, the analysis for whether or not Mr. Weiser is a public official fails on its face...." 

The Department's full warrant denial memo is online