The state is investigating three complaints saying Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero's reelection campaign violated the law, illegally giving money to City Council Member Kathie Dunbar's reelection campaign.
The complaint filed by Sheryl Ayers said on June 14th, Bernero's Campaign Manager Christopher Breznau was suddenly paid at least $1,400 more than his usual wage. Then, on the following Monday, he donated $1,000 to Dunbar's reelection.
Not only that, but the complaint shows that another campaign employee, Elizabeth Hart, did the same. She was paid $2,000 more than she was previously paid.
The two Bernero reelection campaign employees donated the exact same contribution on the same day--the Monday following their payday--each giving $1,000 of their earnings to Dunbar.
Friday WILX News Ten verified the numbers filed in Ayers complaint are accurate with state campaign finance records. See the PDF below to view the campaign finance records.
Michigan law prohibits a person from giving money to a second person so that it can be donated to an election campaign.
News Ten went to the City Council Member Kathie Dunbar's reelection campaign headquarters. No one was there, and no one from the campaign contacted us back.
In the complaint, Ayers wrote that her mailing address is in Eaton Rapids. News Ten's Brian Johnson drove to her house. The woman who answered the door said Ayers is her daughter, and she lives in North Carolina.
Thursday Mayor Bernero says his campaign will not be distracted, and that he was unaware of the alleged wrong-doings.
"I'm not actually cutting the checks. I wasn't even aware of what they were making exactly, so I couldn't even tell you what the figure is," said Mayor Bernero. "Usually about a month out for the campaign, I warn all my associates it's the silly season and, you know, expect anything--you see all sorts of games like this."
The Secretary of State's office handles campaign finance investigations. The process is slow, and a decision isn't expected until after election day.
A spokesman for the Secretary of State said if a violation occurred, it will probably be settled by having the mayor's campaign staff sign an agreement saying it won't happen again.
Fines or misdemeanor charges are possible but unlikely according to the spokesman.
To see the campaign finance records, or read the complaint filed click on the PDFs linked below.