The American Democracy Legal Fund (ADLF) sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission this week urging it to begin an immediate investigation into allegations of illegal conduct by those operating on behalf of John James’ Senate campaign. The letter comes after a bombshell report by the Daily Beast late last week that highlighted numerous ways in which James’ campaign and an allied dark money group called Better Future Michigan (BFM) may be violating federal election law.
“This type of swampy, unethical behavior is alarming, and John James needs to be investigated for this potential illegal behavior by those working on his behalf,” said ADLF’s Brad Woodhouse. “John James does not get to pick and choose what laws he wants to follow. We urge the Federal Election Commission to immediately begin an investigation and hold John James and his supporters accountable.”
Among the allegations raised in the report:
- BFM’s Executive Director was formerly James’ campaign manager in his unsuccessful 2018 campaign for Senate. According to the Daily Beast, Sachs received her last payment from the James campaign only a month before BFM was incorporated in 2019. This is a clear violation of the 120 day “cooling off” period that bars campaign staffers from joining independent expenditure organizations working to elect the candidate whose campaign said former staffers previously worked for.
- The Daily Beast goes on to detail further overlap between BFM and the James campaign, as well as suggests BFM is circumventing election laws by acting as a defacto advertising arm of the James campaign. BFM is a registered nonprofit, meaning it cannot have express political advocacy as its primary purpose. So far, BFM has spent $300,000 on television ads attacking James’ Democratic opponent, Senator Gary Peters. However, because BFM is not required to disclose its donors, we do not know if they are in fact following the law and spending within the confines allowed by federal law. It is unclear what else BFM has spent its money on other than attacking Peters.
ADLF Urges Investigation Into John James Over Allegations of Illegal ConductA copy of the letter can be viewed here.