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Michigan GOP nominee for Wayne State board disqualified over unpaid fee

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — The Michigan Republican Party had to replace one of its two nominees for the Wayne State University Board of Governors Thursday because of an unpaid campaign finance penalty dating to 2018.

Over the weekend, the party nominated Diane Dunaskiss, a former member of the Wayne State board, for one of two board positions up for election on Nov. 3. The party received notification on Wednesday from the Michigan Secretary of State's Office that Dunaskiss was disqualified from running because of an outstanding fee from her unsuccessful campaign for the board in 2018.

Wayne State Board of Governors nominee Diane Dunaskiss during the Wayne State University Board meeting December 7, 2018.

"In June 2020, Ms. Dunaskiss filed her affidavit of candidacy with the policy committee where she stated that there was no other collection procedure instituted by state authorities," according to an email from Stu Sandler, the Michigan Republican Party's general counsel, to members of the state committee. "Unfortunately, this was not the case."

In a letter to Dunaskiss, Michigan Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater said the state was "required by law to disqualify" her from the Nov. 3 ballot because of the situation.

The Republican state committee had a Thursday emergency meeting to replace Dunaskiss on the ballot with former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 2014.

“Our party is incredibly fortunate to have a proven fighter like Terri Lynn Land ready to represent our Pro-American values on the Wayne State Board of Governors," Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox said in a Thursday statement. "With her long record of success, I am confident that Terri Lynn Land will not only be successful this November but will serve as an incredible advocate for the students of Wayne State University and the people of Michigan.”

Dunaskiss expressed regret for the error.

"It is with great personal regret that I announce that I will not be one of the Republican candidates on the ballot for the Wayne State University Board of Governors this election cycle; this is due to a minor campaign finance oversight in record keeping," she said Thursday.

"Obviously I am disappointed that I will not be able to represent the values that I hold dear and for which I fought during my previous 24-year tenure on the WSU Board."

This is a portion of the affidavit of identity signed by Diane Dunaskiss that says her campaign finance late filing fees have been paid.

Dunaskiss' committee owes the state $1,000 for missing a filing deadline after the November election in 2018, according to campaign finance records. The Secretary of State's Office has sent her multiple notices about the fee, records indicate.

"Candidates that have any outstanding notices of failure to file or outstanding late filing fees with any filing official in the state are ineligible to appear on the ballot," guidance from the Michigan Secretary of State for university board candidates says.

Dunaskiss lost her re-election bid in November 2018 by about 24,000 votes, or less than 1% of the overall vote total. She served on the Wayne State board from 1995 through 2018.

cmauger@detroitnews.com