Rep says $14K campaign error an ‘oversight’

Detroit News staff

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga recently signed an affidavit under penalty of perjury attesting that his dormant state leadership committee made an “oversight” when it did not report $14,000 in contributions from four donors in 2004 and 2008.

Huizenga left the Legislature in 2008 and was elected to Congress in 2010.

But the Zeeland Republican has spent the past couple of years trying to reconcile the financial statements of the Huizenga House Fund, a leadership political action committee he set up in the mid-2000s.

Huizenga’s affidavit sought to clear up why his PAC’s records didn’t previously report a $6,000 contribution from the Michigan Manufactured Housing PAC; $5,000 from Robert S. Taubman, CEO of Taubman Centers Inc.; $2,500 from Richard Haworth of Haworth International; and $500 from the Auto Dealers of Michigan PAC.

Huizenga’s campaign chalks up the error to the state’s sometimes clunky campaign finance accounting software.

The congressman had to attest for the erroneous reporting because he served as the treasurer. Huizenga did have a separate bookkeeper for the committee, said Jim Barry, Huizenga’s half-brother and campaign adviser.

Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, called it a case of “sloppy bookkeeping.”

“One lesson here is that the (politician) ought to not be the treasurer,” he said.

Sens got Menendez money

Republicans have called on several Democrats to return campaign contributions they received from a political fundraising committee affiliated with indicted U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

Democratic U.S. Sens.Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennet of Colorado said they would do so, following Menendez’s indictment on federal corruption charges last week.

It’s unclear if other Democrats will follow suit. Michigan Sen. Gary Peters’ campaign received $7,500 from Menendez’s New Millennium PAC last year, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s received $20,000 from the PAC between 2006 and 2010, according to campaign finance records.

Spokeswomen for each senator said the campaigns received no questions from federal authorities about the contributions.

Menendez, indicted on 14 criminal counts including bribery, has said he’ll fight the allegations.

Work, work, work

The Legislature has been in recess for two weeks while lawmakers took their spring break, but House Democrats say that doesn’t mean they’ve been twiddling their thumbs.

“The two-week break from session in Lansing allows legislators to meet with their constituents and discuss what’s happening in their districts and in Lansing, as well as the opportunity to host events on various topics that impact the state and local communities,” says Rosie Jones, interim deputy director of the House Democratic caucus staff.

Here’s what they did the first week away from the Capitol, according to Jones, attended nearly 100 meetings, town halls and forums with community groups, councils, schools and individuals; visited more than 30 classrooms for March is Reading Month, and held more than 20 coffee and constituent hours.

Divvying that workload among the 47 House Dems works out to about three meetings, classroom visits or coffee hours per representative — in case you were wondering.

DCCC ads target Benishek

A campaign arm of the Democratic Party is running 30-second radio ads this week in the northern Michigan district of U.S.Rep. Dan Benishek, criticizing him for breaking his pledge on term limits.

“When we elected Congressman Dan Benishek, he promised to only serve three terms in Congress. Guess what? He listened to D.C. insiders and wants to stay in Washington for a fourth term,” the ad says.

Paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the ad is running while Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, is home during spring recess.

The radio campaign also targets three other Republicans the DCCC terms “vulnerable” in 2016.

Benishek, a surgeon who worked at the Iron Mountain VA Hospital, said he’s seeking a fourth term because he’s concerned veterans aren’t receiving their benefits. He’s the only Michigan member on the House Veterans Committee.

“My training as a physician taught me to never walk away from a patient, and I can’t start now,” Benishek said in a recent statement.

Snap judgment, apology

State Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, apologized this week for his social media posts that last month suggested the newly promoted news editor of his hometown paper, the Midland Daily News, might have a special agenda because he is gay.

Glenn posted an “agenda alert” on Facebook and Twitter after the promotion of reporter Tony Lascari. In a letter to to the editor, Glenn called his posts “a snap judgment that was both thoughtless and inappropriate to my new position.”

“The 60 seconds it took on a Sunday morning to thoughtlessly cut and paste an article to Facebook is not indicative of the focus of my time, attention and judgment as a legislator,” Glenn wrote. “Voters who supported me, and those who didn’t, deserve my best and most measured judgment — all the time.”

Lascari wrote a column saying Glenn has a right to his opinion and vowing to continue accurate, balanced and fair reporting.

Contributors: Chad Livengood, Melissa Nann Burke, Gary Heinlein