$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.

Huizenga's PAC asked to explain funding errors

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Michigan campaign-finance regulators have asked the independent political committee of former state Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, to explain omissions and potential errors in old disclosure reports.

A March 6 letter from the state Bureau of Elections requests that Congressman Huizenga, as treasurer of the political action committee Huizenga House Fund, submit an affidavit stipulating that the failure to disclose $14,000 in contributions in 2004 and 2008 was an oversight.

The contributions included $6,000 from the Michigan Manufactured Housing, RV and Campground Association PAC; $5,000 from businessman Robert S. Taubman, CEO of Taubman Centers Inc.; $2,500 from Richard Haworth of Haworth International; and $500 from the Auto Dealers of Michigan Political Action Committee, according to the letter.

The state also seeks an explanation for $5,900 in reported donations by the Huizenga House Fund to the 2008 campaign of Republican state Rep. Holly Hughes. Independent committees may not contribute more than $5,000 an election cycle to a candidate for the Michigan House.

"If the PAC can address these issues adequately, it wouldn't face a new fine or fee," said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office, which administers the state's election law.

Reports from Hughes' campaign committee show that Huizenga's PAC donated only $5,000, so the Bureau of Elections wants Huizenga to verify the reported donations in case of a bookkeeping or reporting error, Woodhams said.

"There may have been a check that was pulled back or voided, keeping the donations under the limit," he said.

Huizenga House Fund dates to Huizenga's career representing southern Ottawa County in the Michigan House from 2002 to 2008. Huizenga was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010.

State records show the PAC last month gave state election officials overdue information needed for 15 reporting periods between 2004 and 2009. Huizenga has sought to dissolve the PAC, but state officials say the outstanding issues need to be resolved first.

PACs registered in Michigan have various deadlines throughout the year for filing disclosure reports on contributions and spending. If a report appears to contain errors or omissions, election officials send a notice to the committee asking for a response. Committees may be fined for late filings.

"In this case, the PAC generally filed its reports on time but didn't respond to the error/omission notices in a timely way," Woodhams said.

Jim Barry, senior adviser to the Huizenga campaign, said the matter boils down to "technical" issues with how the state's campaign-finance reporting system works.

"Huizenga House Fund was a leadership PAC he had as a state representative and serves no function at this point," Barry said. "This is just tidying up the paperwork and getting this wrapped up."

Election officials expect the PAC will resolve the issues by month's end, Woodhams said.