Benson’s Sweetheart Settlement Grants Governor Criminal Immunity
LANSING, Mich., February 14, 2019– The following is a statement from Michigan Republican Party Legal Counsel Michael J. Pattwell explaining the legal ramifications of Jocelyn Benson’s sweetheart settlement with Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The settlement has come under fire for allowing Whitmer and her allies to pay a 2% fine on campaign violations which amounted to millions of dollars in illegal spending. In addition to fines, Whitmer and her allies also faced possible criminal charges for which they have been granted legal immunity from by Benson.
“Build a Better Michigan illegally expended over $2,000,000 of corporate and union funds to expressly advocate for Gretchen Whitmer’s candidacy. The coordinated effort marked one of the largest illegal political expenditures observed in Michigan history. Under Michigan campaign finance law, making illegal corporate/union contributions and/or evading contribution limits subjects violators to criminal prosecution and potentially millions in fines.
“For violations such as this, the past practice of the SOS’s office was to levy a fine equal to the amount of the illegal expenditure. However, in this case, Benson elected to impose a fine of less than 2% of the illegal expenditure and grant immunity from criminal prosecution to Whitmer and the special interest group.
“Benson’s sweetheart settlement marks such a drastic departure from established precedent so as to undermine the efficacy of the campaign finance requirements she swore an oath to uphold.”