Runestad introduces bill ‘to protect against the abuse of the campaign finance loophole used by Gov. Whitmer’

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad on Thursday introduced a bill that he says will fix a campaign finance loophole recently exploited by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to fundraise beyond set contribution limits.

“Finance reports filed in July and October showed our governor has stockpiled millions from jumbo-sized contributions — including some in the six-figure range — above the $7,150 individual limit currently set for gubernatorial campaigns,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “The legislation I introduced will protect against the abuse of the campaign finance loophole used by Gov. Whitmer to raise unconventional amounts of funds against unrealistic recall attempts.”

While the governor has pointed to 1983 and 1984 declaratory rulings by former Michigan Secretary of State Richard Austin related to candidates facing recall elections, current Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in October that Whitmer may have to return or donate millions of dollars in campaign contributions at the end of this year.

Senate Bill 788 would require an officeholder, who is the subject of an approved recall petition, to place money raised to campaign in the recall election into a separate specified account and return those donations not expended by the committee during the campaign.

“The governor’s unorthodox fundraising efforts go directly against measures set forth to ensure fair elections in this state,” Runestad said. “Soliciting mega-donations to fight against imaginary recalls is misleading to donors and, ultimately, harmful to voters, who should be able to trust that candidates are playing by the same rules and are competing fairly.”

SB 788 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Elections for consideration.