Recently as part of holding the elected officials in Kalamazoo responsible I’ve been digging through campaign finance reports filed (or not filed) by our local elected officials. One of the many substantiated complaints I’ve filed recently has made the news today. Over the last year I’ve filed numerous complaints, and spent substantial time investigating various records. Filing a complaint with the Michigan Secretary of State isn’t a 5 minute process. You have to attach the evidence, cite the law, and spend time looking through each election committee’s reports. I don’t take sides when filing complaints, and recently filed complaints against both sides of the 911 campaign when one side tipped me off that the other side was violating the law, but the other side was violating the same law as well.
Why I File Complaints
I firmly believe that there is a reason for campaign finance law. People should know who spends how much money on the candidates that are running for local office as often those that contribute to campaigns are the ones that get preferential treatment. Failing to file reports, filing incorrect reports and obtaining funds from illegal sources are issues that deeply effect our democratic process.
‘Look At The Bigger Issues’
Yep, I agree 100 percent there are bigger issues. I’ve taken some of them on that have not garnished media attention. The state is currently investigating an elected official for receiving illegal campaign contributions in Kalamazoo thanks to me. As part of that investigation the source of the contributions has admitted to the contribution. I’m also looking into substantial irregularities in campaign finance reports that are at least several thousands of dollars, however those take time to investigate as the reports are complex and have to be cross referenced with other reports.
But yes I am looking at the bigger issues. You are free to look at the bigger issues as well. Campaign finance reports in Kalamazoo are free to review and are available online.
A Systematic Campaign Finance Problem
In Kalamazoo campaign finance is almost the wild west. Election committees (formed by candidates and campaign issues) choose if they want to file reports that they are legally required to file. Reports are often inaccurate, sometimes substantially inaccurate. This isn’t a one party thing, its a Kalamazoo County wide thing irregardless of office, party or issue. I’m not sure why, but it appears there is a lack of enforcement from the county clerk and I also think that needs to be looked into.
A Warning Going Forward
I don’t care if I voted for you, if you are my friend, if you are elected, if you are not elected of if your a committee on an issue. If you violate campaign finance law going forward I will file a complaint. The people have a right to a transparent democratic process, its the law. When you run for office or advocate on behalf of a campaign issue you agree to follow that law.
The Secretary of State publishes tips online for treasurers of campaign committees and offers webinars on how to make sure you do things properly. There are also manuals published by the state and tons of other resources.