Michigan Republicans believe Mark Schauer, the Democrat running to replace Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder (R), could, and perhaps should, go to jail for what the GOP is alleging to be the second campaign finance law violation of his political career.
Whether Schauer will go to the slammer or not is up to the Michigan secretary of state.
“For the second time in a long career of failures, Mark Schauer has broken Michigan law for political gain,” said Bobby Schostak, the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.
The latest allegation involves a charge that the Schauer campaign illegally donated money to the campaign of the woman destined to join him on the Democrats’ ticket as the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor, Lisa Brown.
“And so the saga continues,” said Schostak.
The Snyder-Schauer race for governor in Michigan was supposed to be a cakewalk for Snyder, who most believed would pull the GOP ticket to a resounding victory. It isn’t working out that way, at least not with about 60 days to go before the first Tuesday in November.
An EPIC-MRA poll released to WXYZ-TV and the Detroit Free Press Aug. 27 shows Schauer has a 2-point lead over Snyder, which is well within the 4-point margin of error.
That flips the July EPIC-MRA poll numbers that showed Snyder in the lead by 3 points.
Bernie Porn, the president of EPIC-MRA, told the Detroit Free Press he is surprised by how tight this race has become. Porn thought Snyder would have had “a significant lead by Labor Day.”
“The fact that Schauer is up by a couple of points against an incumbent … probably spells that this is going to be a close race,” said Porn.
Suddenly every voter is important, especially those who describe themselves as independents. Recent polls have shown Snyder has locked down the GOP vote as expected, and Schauer finally has the Democrats in his corner, now that more are able to put his face with his name.
But the EPIC-MRA poll shows Snyder’s lead among independents is growing. Could this allegation of campaign finance law violations swing more voters to his side?
This might not seem like the kind of issue that would change a voter’s mind. But Eric Doster, lead counsel for the Michigan GOP, said in a press conference Aug. 27 the charge is anything but a simple act of political gamesmanship.
The Republicans are accusing the Schauer campaign committee of making unlawful contributions to the Lisa Brown committee during the primary election season. After she was officially placed on the ticket, post-Democratic Party Convention that was held Aug. 23, it wouldn’t be a problem. But as Doster explained it, the Schauer campaign committee and the Brown campaign committee during the primary season were separate entities.
The Michigan GOP said that Schauer’s campaign broke the law by paying for billboards and T-shirts endorsing Brown for lieutenant governor before she was officially nominated to the Democrats’ ticket.
Doster said this is especially egregious because Schauer is accepting public financing for his campaign so he is under a $2 million expenditure limit “and what he is attempting to do is to front-load his general election expenditures with his primary expenses.”
Doster also pointed out this isn’t the first time Schauer has done something like this.
Schauer, while serving in the Michigan statehouse, was fined more than $200,000 for exceeding the limit on campaign donations to the state fund for Democratic candidates running for the Michigan state Senate, as well as violating the limit on how much could be donated to the campaign of an individual state Senate candidate.
The 2009 case was decided by, guess who? Terri Lynn Land, the Michigan Republican Party’s nominee to replace retiring Michigan Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in 2014. She was Michigan’s secretary of state at the time.
“These fines will reassure all voters that their interests are being protected. They also send a clear message that no one is above the law,” Land said in a statement in 2009, while serving her second term as Michigan’s secretary of state. She was also a GOP primary candidate for governor, at the time.
This time Schauer’s fate is also in the hands of a Republican, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.
A spokesman for the secretary of state’s office has confirmed the Schauer campaign has been asked for evidence in the case and an investigation is underway.
The penalty Schauer faces is a $1,000 fine or 90 days in jail, unless the secretary of state decides to penalize him and his campaign for each violation separately as Land did in 2009.
The Michigan Democratic Party and the Schauer committee did not respond to PJ Media’s request for comment.
“What Mark Schauer just can’t grasp,” said Schostak, “is that when you break the law, you will always get caught. It seems as though he just can’t stay out of trouble.”