Lisa Brown. (Todd McInturf / Detroit News)
Lansing— Lisa Brown, Oakland County’s chief elections officer, has been campaigning to be Michigan’s next lieutenant governor for four months without forming a candidate committee.
Michigan Republican Party executive director Kim Jorns lodged a complaint with the state Bureau of Elections last month, claiming Brown is breaking state election law by not creating a committee and disclosing any campaign fundraising and spending activity as Mark Schauer’s running mate.
State law requires candidates for state offices to form official campaign committees with the Secretary of State’s office within 10 days of becoming a candidate, though it’s not a closely followed statute for lieutenant governor candidates.
“Not only does the Schauer-Brown ticket lack any plans for Michigan, but also the common sense and foresight to follow the same rules as every other candidate in Michigan,” state GOP Chairman Bobby Schostak said Thursday in a statement.
The Bureau of Elections began an investigation into the complaint last week, spokesman Fred Woodhams said Thursday.
Under Michigan’s campaign finance laws, candidates who fail to file statements of organization within 30 days can face penalties of up to $1,000 in fines and a misdemeanor charge.
Brown, the Oakland County clerk, joined the Democratic ticket in April and has since been attending fundraisers for the Schauer campaign. She did not return a message Thursday seeking comment.
The Schauer campaign said Thursday the GOP’s complaint is an attempt by Gov. Rick Snyder’s allies to distract attention away from the renomination challenge Lt. Gov. Brian Calley faces at the Republican state convention on Aug. 23. Tea party leader Wes Nakagiri hopes to knock Calley off the ticket.
As Schauer’s handpicked running mate, Brown faces no opposition to her nomination as the Democrats’ lieutenant governor at their convention later this month.
“Welcome to the silly season. This is a frivolous and meritless complaint,” Schauer spokeswoman Cathy Bacile Cunningham said Thursday in a statement. “Lisa Brown is an uncontested candidate, unlike Brian Calley, who is running in an ugly, contentious and expensive nominating convention. We strongly disagree with this complaint.”
The Schauer campaign is working with the Bureau of Elections on a “conciliation agreement,” the details of which are being worked out, Bacile Cunningham said.
But Brown is far tardier in forming a campaign committee than some recent lieutenant gubernatorial candidates.
Calley formed a lieutenant governor committee about three weeks after Snyder chose Calley as his running mate in 2010, campaign records show.
In 2010, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence formed a committee within a month after becoming Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero’s Democratic gubernatorial running mate, records show.
In 2002, John Cherry formed a lieutenant governor campaign committee less than three weeks after Jennifer Granholm tapped him to be her running mate, according to state records.
Schauer himself was part of the largest election fine in Michigan history. In 2009, then-Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land fined the Senate Democratic Fund and Schauer’s state Senate campaign $225,250 for attempting to exceed contribution limits — something the Michigan Republican Party noted Thursday.
The Michigan Democratic Party complained Thursday afternoon that the Secretary of State’s office hasn’t taken up its call for an investigation into Land’s listing herself as an employee of Land & Co. many times on campaign donations to her own Secretary of State campaign — something Land has said was an error because she has never been a Land & Co. employee.