The state has extended the investigation into the fundraising activities of Mike Duggan’s Detroit mayoral campaign and the super political action committee supporting him, prompting criticism from the group that lodged the complaint.
Turnaround Detroit, the super PAC, and Duggan’s campaign were granted 15-day extensions from the state that pushes back responses to the probe until Oct. 29 — or about a week before the Nov. 5 election. Turnaround Detroit cited responding to two simultaneous complaints, while the Duggan campaign said it needed to go through a vast amount of campaign statements.
But the extension doesn’t sit well with attorney Todd Perkins, who filed the complaint.
“As a lawyer and a practitioner, I understand the need to represent a client and to be circumspect in that representation,” Perkins said. “But when you have an individual, ... and the balance of his team proclaim the baselessness of the claims filed, then it seems rather odd you would need more time to respond to such baseless claims.”
Last month, the Detroit-based Perkins Law Group and super PAC Detroit Forward, which supports the mayoral campaign of Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, filed the complaint with the Michigan Elections Bureau.
Perkins’ filing said Duggan-related super PAC Turnaround Detroit raised $1.2 million, $750,000 of it in “corporate treasury funds” and “spent $327,000 on the campaign to elect Mike Duggan as mayor of Detroit.”
Duggan beat Napoleon 52 percent to 30 percent in the Aug. 6 primary.
According to the complaint, Turnaround Detroit operated as a super PAC, but was registered as a “political committee type PAC,” which has stricter rules regarding donation limits and disclosure. It exceeded donation limits of $3,400 per contributor and illegally coordinated spending with Duggan campaign efforts, the group maintains.
Under a 3-year-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling, unlimited amounts of money can be contributed by business owners, unions and other groups and spent in favor of or against candidates through super PACs. It raises the stakes on traditional donations to candidate campaigns, which are limited to $3,400 by individuals and $34,000 by other groups in Michigan.
A Turnaround Detroit letter from Samuel “Buzz” Thomas, a former state lawmaker, says it has complied with state campaign finance provisions.