Freedom Fund Asks Jocelyn Benson for Declaratory Ruling on Decision to Let Gretchen Whitmer Launder Campaign Cash

Formal Request Filed with Secretary of State over Outstanding Questions about Illegal Fundraising Scheme

LANSING, MI – The Michigan Freedom Fund’s executive director today filed a formal request for a declaratory ruling from Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson over campaign finance rules she’s citing – or ignoring – to allow her friend, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, to launder millions of dollars in inappropriate campaign contributions to campaign accounts that will benefit both Benson and Whitmer’s re-election campaigns. 

“Gretchen Whitmer made the biggest unethical campaign cash grab in Michigan history, and Jocelyn Benson ignored campaign finance law and serious ethical complaints to essentially let the Governor keep it,” said Tori Sachs, executive director of the Michigan Freedom Fund. “Jocelyn Benson has usurped the role of the Legislature, ignored how the Department customarily remedies excessive contributions, and gave Whitmer’s illegal donors a pass. Michigan campaign finance law matters, which is why we’ve filed a formal request for a declaratory ruling.”

The declaratory ruling request seeks specific answers to challenges raised in previous complaints and ignored by the Secretary of State, including:

  1. What authority allows Jocelyn Benson’s Department to not enforce the Michigan Campaign Finance Act’s contribution limits?

  2. What authority allows the Department to deviate from its usual practice to remedy an excessive contribution by refund to the contributor, and create a “disgorgement” remedy for an active candidate committee based on a statute which applies only “upon termination of a candidate committee”?

  3. What authority allows the Department to shield a contributor from liability for exceeding statutory contribution limits contrary to the express language of MCL 169.252(1) and shifting all “potential violations [to] the committee that accepts contributions” notwithstanding that both contributor and committee are liable for violating the Act’s contribution limits?

  4. What authority allows the Department to avoid notifying a respondent of a campaign finance   complaint within 5 business days after the filing of a complaint as required by MCL 169.215(5)?

  5. What authority allows the Department or the Secretary of State to review a campaign finance complaint relating to a major donor of the Secretary of State’s candidate committee in light of MCL 169.215(9) which precludes the Secretary of State’s review of a complaint that “involves the secretary of state, the immediate family of the secretary of state, or a campaign or committee with which the secretary of state is connected, directly or indirectly”?

Michigan Freedom Fund executive director Tori Sachs filed a formal campaign finance complaint in July against Gretchen Whitmer’s campaign committee for the brazenly illegal fundraising scheme. Whitmer raised millions of dollars in excess of the state’s campaign finance laws and limits by misleadingly claiming she was raising money to fight a recall campaign, while no active recall campaign was ever undertaken against her.

Benson in December issued a ruling that ignored state law and allowed Whitmer to “disgorge” millions of dollars in campaign contributions gathered above the legal limit to campaign coffers that benefit the Governor, instead of being forced to return the illegal campaign cash to donors.

The Michigan Freedom Fund works to advance conservative ideas, hold our government accountable to taxpayers, and protect Freedom, opportunity, and workers’ Constitutional rights. For more information, please visit