Millions of Dollars ‘Disappear’ From Michigan Republican Party in New Finance Reports

Kristina Karamo speaks to delegates at the Michigan Republican Party convention on Feb. 18 in Lansing. (AP Photo/Joey Cappelletti)

By Kyle Kaminski

April 18, 2023

Federal campaign finance records show that the Michigan Republican Party blew through about $2 million since January—and failed to disclose how they spent just about all of it.

MICHIGAN—The Michigan Republican Party has a $2 million problem on its hands.

Recently released campaign finance records—which were submitted to the Federal Election Commission last month—indicate that about $2 million in cash has vanished without a trace from the Michigan Republican Party. And so far, party officials don’t have an explanation.

Here’s the deal:

The Michigan Republican Party operates a political party committee, which can take in contributions and make expenditures to influence elections at the local, state or national level. The committee must be registered with the Federal Election Commission, and it’s required to submit regular reports to the federal government that detail exactly how it’s spending its cash. 

Reports filed on March 17 indicate the party had about $1.94 million in cash at the end of January. Three days later, however, the money was gone. A subsequent report on March 20 showed only about $2,100 of that cash remained—with no record of how the rest was spent.

Filings submitted by the party, instead, only tracked about $80,000 in routine expenses—most of which was given to out-of-state companies to print political mailers and conduct voter surveys.

The vast majority of the cash—more than $1.8 million—appears to have simply disappeared. And the financial irregularities are already raising eyebrows among government watchdogs.

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, a vocal proponent of transparency in political spending, took the Michigan Republican Party to task on Twitter over the finance issues on Monday morning.

“You cannot simply make $2 million disappear,” Byrum said. 

Officials at the Michigan Republican Party didn’t respond to a request for an explanation or provide additional clarity on the irregularities. Byrum suspects federal officials will likely seek clarification from party officials, and give the party a chance to file an amended finance report.

Ultimately, the legal ramifications are unlikely to amount to more than a fine—though Byrum said there are also practical consequences of keeping voters in the dark on political spending.

“If the Michigan GOP cannot spend their campaign dollars responsible, imagine the havoc they would wreak on the state budget if they were given that responsibility by voters,” Byrum added.

It’s no secret that the Michigan Republican Party is having financial problems this year.

Newly elected Party Chairwoman Kristina Karamo announced late last month that the party was $460,000 in debt, and “in a pickle” ahead of the looming presidential race in 2024, according to reports in the Detroit News. The party’s overall debt, however, can be hard to nail down because it operates multiple accounts—some that have to be reported publicly, and others that do not. 


READ MORE:
Election Conspiracist Takes Reins of Michigan Republican Party

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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