Detroit, MI

Republican Recall fuels Gov. Whitmer fundraising efforts

Matthew Donnellon
Image via Detroit News

Last year, during the height of the pandemic, some people thought the best use of their time was to try and recall the governor.

They were mad about the lockdowns.

They were mad about mask mandates.

So they exercised their right to petition and started collecting signatures.

Such was their right.

And now they are starting to realize that they royally messed up.

Now Republican strategists are trying to get them to stop.

Fred Wszolek, a Republican political consultant wrote on Twitter, “Every grassroots conservative in MI should turn up the heat on the various Recall Whitmer activists to pack it in now. They're not going to succeed, and they're strengthening her by the day. They knew this could happen. It is. Enough.”

He’s right.

The people trying to recall the governor have bolstered her reelection efforts far more than they realized.

Because of the recall effort, a Michigan law allows Governor Whitmer to exceed the maximum individual campaign finance donation. Typically, one would be limited to $7,150 per person, but a ruling from 1984. In the letter, written from then Secretary of State Richard Austin to L. Brooks Patterson, the prosecuting attorney at the time (and later Oakland County Executive).

The ruling is rather interesting, Since a recall vote does not fill a pub1 ic office, it must be concluded that the candidate committee of an officeholder subject to a recall vote is not a 'candidate committee of a candidate for state elective office.' Therefore, section 52 does not apply to contributions received by an officeholder who is being recalled, provided the contributions are designated for a recall election.”

Essentially, a recall vote is different from a vote to be elected, so it does not fall under the same laws that an election would. Also, the letter states that it would be unfair for the office holder because they would be fundraising against entities that are not beholden to campaign finance laws, thus putting the office holder in a serious disadvantage.

Gov. Whitmer is already a strong fundraiser, but this loophole has allowed her to blow the competition out of the water.

Bridge Michigan has a breakdown of just how well she’s doing, “On Monday, Whitmer’s re-election campaign reported having fundraised $8.6 million from Jan. 1 to July 20. Whitmer’s campaign now has $10.7 million in hand. No other gubernatorial candidate has raised this amount in an off-year, nor during an election year — and Whitmer’s tally is three times the amount her predecessor, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, raised in 2014 for re-election.”

The recall attempt has allowed Whitmer to land huge donations. So far, attorney Mark Bernstein, and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker are the two biggest donors with contributions of $257,150 and $250,000 respectively.

As or the time of this reporting, there are have been over a dozen recall attempts but none have have been approved,

Whitmer made no bones about using the law to her advantage, “"We need reform when it comes to political contributions but as long as the rules are what they are, I'm going to make sure that I always abide by the rules,” Whitmer said. “I'm going to run hard, just like I do everything when I set my mind to something."

It’s a nice change of pace, too often Democrats seem to be content to play with one hand tied behind their backs.

Time will tell if the recall attempts pick up any steam, but it would be the height of irony of the people who wanted Whitmer gone most end up getting her reelected.

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI

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