House speaker orders audit into campaign cash issue
Lansing — House Speaker Tom Leonard has ordered an audit of the House Republicans’ main fund-raising arm after finding discrepancies between the committee’s public campaign finance reports and actual bank balances, a committee consultant said Friday.
Stu Sandler, a consultant for the House Republican Campaign Committee, confirmed that Leonard — a Dewitt Republican — initiated an audit. He said the committee has hired an attorney and notified the Secretary of State’s office about the issue, which was first reported by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network and the Michigan Public Radio.
Campaign finance reports to the Secretary of State and the Republican campaign committee’s bank balance differed by about $100,000, according to documents the campaign finance network obtained through open records requests and emails.
One such email shows Evelyn Quiroga, director of data disclosure division for the Michigan Department of State, informed other staff at the department that campaign statements were “showing about $100K more than what was in the bank.”
“There could be a discrepancy,” Sandler said, adding that “I’m not going to confirm amounts. We just want to finish the audit and make sure it’s accurate.”
An email from the committee’s Okemos-based campaign finance attorney, Eric Doster, to Quiroga said the committee “has replaced its Treasurer and Designated Recordkeeper.” It also notes, “Although the accounting review has only just commenced, it initially appears that those who managed the HRCC’s accounts lacked bookkeeping and accounting experience.
“After the review is complete, I will contact you to arrange a meeting with your office so that we can take whatever additional steps you require in order to ensure that the HRCC is 100% compliant with the Michigan campaign finance laws,” Doster continued in the email.
Sandler declined to comment on whether the committee’s former treasurer and record-keeper were fired.
Former House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, and Rep. Mike McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills, both worked as the committee’s treasurer between 2015 and 2016.
Doster did not immediately return a phone call or email Friday.
The House Republican Campaign Committee will send revised campaign finance documents to the Secretary of State, said Fred Woodhams, the office’s spokesman.
“I don’t want to speculate whether anything further would happen,” he said in an email. “The next steps would depend on what was filed.”