Michigan Democrats Demand Investigation of Land Finances

“What kind of person forgets they have $2.9 million?” Lon Johnson, the chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, wondered aloud to reporters as he announced two election complaints were being filed against the Republicans' candidate for Senate, Terri Lynn Land.

Michigan Democrats filed the complaints July 24, calling for federal and state audits of the former Michigan secretary of State’s finances.

“Since Terri Lynn Land refuses to answer questions about her controversial and potentially illegal Land & Co. finances, the only way for Michiganders to know the truth is through investigations by the State of Michigan and Federal Election Commission,” said Johnson.

Larry Sabato, a political science professor at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, put a rhetorical nail in the Land campaign’s coffin a couple of hours before Democrats announced their demand for investigations.

Sabato wrote that earlier this year, it looked like Land stood a good chance of winning the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Carl Levin. Land was either tied with Rep. Gary Peters (D) or was leading.

But that has changed in the last two months, with Democrats raising questions about Land’s self-funding of her campaign and leaving her tied in verbal knots as she tried to explain whether she did or did not work in the family business.

The latest poll, from EPIC-MRA, released July 15, has Peters ahead by 9 points, and he is trouncing Land when it comes to female voters.

“Michigan is just a fool’s gold state for Republicans,” wrote Sabato. “Federal races there often appear highly competitive, but Democrats typically settle in to win handily.”

Democrats want the state of Michigan to investigate 15 donations Land made as owner of Land & Co. to her secretary of state campaign.

At the time, Land’s husband, Daniel Hibma, was treasurer of her secretary of state campaign and owner of Land & Co.

Land has said that she had no ties to the company. Johnson said that means “either she lied to the people of Michigan about her business experience or lied to the state of Michigan about her ownership of Land & Company.”

Michigan Democrats also want the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether Land broke the law by self-funding $2.9 million to her campaign without having $2.9 million in her own assets.

Land has said she would file an amended report covering the $2.9 million that she “inadvertently” left off the report.

So far that report has not been filed, and Heather Swift, the spokeswoman for the Land campaign, did not immediately respond to a PJ Media request for a response to the Michigan Democrats’ charges.

Independent experts have told The Detroit News and The Detroit Free Press that Land may have violated both state and federal election law.

Rich Robinson, the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, told The Detroit News he questioned how Land could deny ever working for Land & Co. and blame donations when she’s listed as an employee of Land & Co. Per Robinson, "I would be very surprised if any campaign record keeper would list an occupation that wasn't provided by the donor.”