Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reelection campaign may have to return or donate over $3 million identified as excess contributions after a lawsuit brought by the state’s Republican Party.
The Detroit News reported that Whitmer has pulled in a record $8.65 million as of late July, including $3.4 million from donors who exceeded the normal $7,150 limit for individuals. Jocelyn Benson, the secretary of state, reportedly issued a court filing that the funds may have to be returned if there is no recall, which looks unlikely.
State Republicans have called the “recall exception” unconstitutional. The paper called the exemption a “decades-old state policy” that essentially allows unlimited contributions due to the possibility of a recall. Whitmer’s campaign has benefited from six-figure donations from several donors, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Republicans have said people never “actively” sought to recall Whitmer because the longshot efforts fell way short of the necessary voter signatures. They claim that the exception is unfair to them because they can’t donate to their candidates on the same level.
Whitmer’s office did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News. The communications director from Whitmer’s office told the paper that the court filing actually “confirms the campaign’s fundraising has been in accordance with the law.”
In July, Whitmer campaign spokesman Mark Fisk said if funds exceeding the individual limit are not used to fight a recall, they can legally be transferred to another account. He mentioned the Michigan Democratic Party as an example.
That brings up the next problem: If January 1 rolls around and there is no recall, where will the funds go?
Simon Schuster, the executive director of Michigan Campaign Finance Network, told the paper that the Detroit News that funds could still be used to help Whitmer’s campaign if they are injected into some kind of political organization.
The Associated Press contributed to this report