Former GOP chair: Weiser trying to 'spin the truth' about $200K settlement

George Hunter
The Detroit News

The former chair of the Michigan Republican Party Saturday fired a salvo on Twitter at the current GOP chair, saying he's trying to “spin the truth” about a settlement agreement to resolve a campaign finance complaint.

The Michigan GOP on Friday agreed to pay $200,000 to resolve a campaign finance complaint claiming state chairman Ron Weiser had used $200,000 in party funds to bribe 2018 secretary of state candidate Stan Grot to drop out of the race.

Ron Weiser and Laura Cox

Former state GOP chairwoman Laura Cox made the allegations against Weiser in February when she sent a letter to the Michigan Bureau of Elections on behalf of her party that a "possible campaign finance violation" had occurred.

That triggered an investigation by Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's office, which wrapped up Friday with the conciliation agreement.

The Michigan GOP on Friday released a statement from Weiser, who said the litigation costs would have exceeded the $200,000 payment, and that he would pay the money out of his own pocket to the party so it can pay the fine to the Secretary of State's Office.

Weiser added he was “glad to put an end to the sad and reckless actions by Laura Cox that needlessly thrust the Michigan Republican Party into a politicized investigation designed to hurt Republicans in 2022 and thwart election reform efforts.”

Cox Saturday fired back in a double-barreled tweet.

“Chairman Weiser & (the Michigan GOP) can spin the truth (in a holiday weekend news dump) all they want, but it doesn’t erase what they did,” she tweeted. “It was wrong for (the GOP) to be involved in the SOS race, let alone any race. MRP cheated delegates/voters & it’s principles in doing so.”

In her second tweet, Cox wrote: “Attacking my decision to do the right thing also won’t paper over the fact that this was one of the largest fines in paid MI’s history. My hope is that our hardworking delegates, volunteers + voters can trust this won’t happen again. They deserve that promise from Weiser.”

Grot of Shelby Township, retired from the secretary of state's race on Aug. 17, 2018, a week before the party's convention. He said "family obligations, timing and the overall political atmosphere" had prompted his decision.

Grot had been competing for the GOP nomination with Mary Treder Lang, a Grosse Pointe Farms businesswoman.

The Secretary of State's Office found "there may be reason to believe" the $200,000 in payments to Grot violated campaign finance law because, the agreement said, they were meant to influence the race for secretary of state. Under election law, public disclosure is required of expenditures that directly benefit a candidate's campaign.

Cox lost her bid to beat Weiser in the party leadership election days after lodging the complaint against him.