House hopeful accused of embezzling from Oakland County treasurer's campaign
A Commerce Township Democrat running for a key House seat is accused of taking thousands of dollars from the campaign account of Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner.
Jennifer Suidan, a record keeper for Meisner’s campaign, is believed to have embezzled more than $100,000 from the Andy Meisner for County Treasurer Committee, Meisner said Monday.
“She has betrayed my trust and the trust of all who expected her to perform her duties honestly and in compliance with the law,” Meisner said in a statement.
Oakland County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton said no charges have been filed against Suidan as of Monday night. An investigator from the prosecutor's office reviewed the initial complaint before referring it to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office Monday afternoon for further investigation, Walton said.
Suidan couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
The 34-year-old Wolverine Lake resident ran unopposed in the Aug. 7 Democratic primary, getting almost as many votes as all four of the Republican primary candidates combined in House District 39. This performance had filled Democrats with optimism that Suidan could beat Republican Ryan Berman and flip the seat currently held by term-limited State Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township.
The Michigan House Democrats' campaign called for Suidan to suspend her campaign immediately in a statement released Monday.
"These allegations have no impact or connection to the rest of our candidates and we remain focused on the issues that matter to Michigan families," said State Reps. and campaign co-chairs Kristy Pagan of Canton Township and Kevin Hertel of St. Clair Shores.
Meisner said he first noticed “irregularities” in his campaign committee several days ago and alerted law enforcement of the discrepancies. He stressed that the alleged embezzlement was solely from his campaign committee and not from the Oakland County offices. Meisner was re-elected to a four-year term as treasurer in 2016.
“…a wrong has been done to the people of Oakland County who gave of their hearts and their pocketbooks so I could serve,” he said. “I am doing everything within my power to ensure that this wrong is made right.”
Suidan was a five-year employee of Goodman Acker who handled assistant and compliance work for clients, according to a statement from the Southfield-based law firm.
Suidan, who filed to run for state representative six months ago, took a leave of absence three weeks ago to campaign for the position. After Suidan left the firm, discrepancies with filings were found after reviewing her compliance work.
“Upon investigation by both Andy Meisner and our firm, it became apparent that she had for at least the last eighteen months been embezzling funds from the Meisner campaign,” the statement said.
The firm said it fired Suidan, informed law enforcement of the issue and will continue its own investigation of the misappropriated money. As of now, Meisner’s campaign appears to be the only one affected and will recover the money because of insurance coverage, the firm said.