Rep. Bentivolio ordered to pay ex-campaign manager

Mike Martindale and David Shepardson
The Detroit News

Pontiac — An Oakland Circuit judge ruled this week outgoing U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio must pay $120,000 to his fired former campaign manager, Robert Dindoffer.

Dindoffer, a Grosse Pointe Park attorney, sued Bentivolio last March seeking damages for fees, expenses and a bonus he claimed Bentivolio, R-Milford, owed him for managing his 2012 campaign.

In his lawsuit, Dindoffer said he was fired without reason in April 2013 and was paid only $16,000 for three months work. Dindoffer estimated he was still due more than $154,000 which included a bonus to be paid should Bentivolio be elected.

Dindoffer’s attorney said on Wednesday both sides had reached a confidential settlement agreement this summer and Bentivolio had made some but not all payments as required by a Nov. 30 deadline, which prompted the Dec. 15 consent judgment by Oakland Circuit Judge James Alexander.

“It was confidential until he (Bentivolio) stopped making payments,” said Dindoffer’s attorney Kevin J. Stoops.

Bentivolio, 63, will leave office next month. He was defeated in the Republican primary and then ran unsuccessfully as a write-in candidate.

The judgment is against Bentivolio, and two of his campaign committees, Kerry Bentivolio for US Congress and Bentivolio for Congress. The judgment, which represents 1.5 times the amount due and owed to Dindoffer, resolves the last pending claim and closes the case, Alexander said in his ruling.

In an interview off the House floor last week, Bentivolio told The Detroit News that he was facing financial troubles in the face of the significant judgment. He criticized the conduct of his former campaign manager and questioned the bills and his loyalty.

But he acknowledged agreeing to settle the case earlier this year to reduce possible additional losses and said he had not been able to make payments.

“What can I do? I’m in the middle of a campaign. I’ve got all these people telling me to settle,” Bentivolio said last week, saying he was looking to reduce additional losses.

Bentivolio, a former school teacher who drew attention for being a part-time reindeer farmer, said he sold his reindeer earlier this year to pay bills and fund his campaign along with borrowing from his retirement fund. He said he has been “beat up” by establishment Republicans and the media.

“This is what happens when a regular guy gets an opportunity to come to Congress,” he said.

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