Ain’t No Learnin’ in the Fifth Kick of a Mule

The Horrendous Campaign Finance Mess of Another Republican Candidate for the 80th House District Seat

Forgetfullness Image 2

This is, without a doubt, the single most convoluted political mess I have ever encountered.

Allegan County Commissioner James M. Storey was one of the first to announce for the special election in the 80th District of the Michigan House of Representatives and one of the last to file. Just before he actually filed, several media stories explained that Mr. Storey was late to file because he discovered outstanding fines against his campaign committee assessed by the Secretary of State. Mr. Storey “discovered a forgotten 33-year-old open campaign account with the Michigan Secretary of State’s office stemming from Storey’s failed 1982 state House bid to represent the eastern UP.”

Mr. Story “said he agreed to amend the reports for that committee and pay a $2,500 fine to the Secretary of State as a result.” His actual predicament is far more recent than his statements suggest and his old ‘Jim Storey for State Representative’ committee still exists and still is noncompliant with Michigan election finance law.

Mr. Storey’s unextinguished State Representative committee did indeed incur an initial $ 25 fine for failing to file its 1998 annual statement (covering 1997) which eventually grew to $ 1,000 in 2001 when it was finally paid. This may have occurred because Mr. Storey moved from Saginaw to his present Holland residence during this time frame. He might not have filed an address change with the Secretary of State and missed their notices. Understandable, but expensive.

However, he filed his committee’s 1999 statement (covering 1998) on time from his current Holland residence, but then failed to file his 2000 statement (covering 1999). Somehow the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections overlooked this failure to file for 14 years.

Mr. Storey’s real problems with Michigan’s campaign finance law began in 2012, the year he ran for the Allegan County Commission’s 2nd District, a race which he won. He filed his 2012 annual statement (covering 2011) late, then fails to file his next four required statements until the eve of his 80th District filing.

The filing he did make with the Secretary of State in 2012 referenced 105th District state representative race.  Then on 15 September 2015 he created the ambiguous ‘Jim Story for Allegan County’, referencing his 80th District State House candidacy.

There is considerable confusion at the Secretary of State’s end as well. The Bureau of Elections ignored Mr. Storey’s 15 September ‘original’ Statement of Organization application and treated it as a name and Treasurer change to his old state representative committee. All of Mr. Storey’s state level campaign committee records since 1994 are now consolidated in a single BoE file as a single, uninterrupted, active campaign committee. Mr. Storey’s failure to file a 2000 (covering 1999) campaign committee statement seems to have fallen into bureaucratic oblivion sometime between 07 May 2013 and 05 March 2014.. And they have apparently not referred Mr. Storey to the Attorney General’s office for multiple misdemeanor violations of MCL 169.235 (5) [failing to file two or more statements], despite being obliged to do so – and having threatening to do so.

This entire mess makes no sense. Inexplicable. The Secretary of State used Mr. Story’s Holland address for all its notice mailings after his 2000 move from Saginaw. He should have received at least 16 mailings from the BoE apprising him of $ 1,000 fines due and owed. He simply cannot claim forgetfulness.

You can dig through the SoS BoE itemized document page on Storey’s committee, or you might find this chronological compilation more helpful to understand what has occurred here:

SoS BoE
Sequence
Date Number Description
02/17/98 149760 $ 25 fine assessed for failure to file 1998 annual campaign statement (covering 1997)
2000 No annual statement filed for 2000 (covering 1999), no BoE action
04/01/01 194818 $ 1,000 fine paid for failure to file 1998 campaign statement (covering 1997) ($ 25 fine had grown to $ 1,000 under MCL 169.235 (3))
2001 – 2011 All annual statements filed on time and in good order.
02/06/12 351972 Failure to file 2012 annual campaign statement (covering 2011) notice
02/15/12 352541 Backdated 2012 annual campaign statement (covering 2011) filed
2012 Storey runs for, and wins, Allegan County Commission District 2 seat
02/06/13 369433 First notice for failure to file 2013 annual campaign statement (covering 2012)
03/06/13 371098 $ 1,000 fine assessed for failure to file 2013 annual campaign statement (covering 2012).
04/24/13 372624 Second fine notice for failure to file 2013 campaign statement (covering 2012).
05/07/13 373461 Notice of failure to file two campaign statements (2000 and 2012) (BoE finally catches up for failure to file 2000 required annual campaign statement covering 1999)
05/21/13 SoS BoE required to refer Storey for prosecution under MCL 169.235 (5). Not done.
07/24/13 374708 Final fine notice for failure to file 2013 campaign statement (covering 2012)
02/06/14 379765 First notice for failure to file 2014 campaign statement for year 2013 (covering 2012)
03/05/14 381899 Notice of failure to file two annual campaign statements (2012 and 2013) [BoE does not mention failure to file 2000 required statement.]
03/05/14 382003 $ 1,000 fine assessed for failure to file 2014 campaign statement (covering 2013)
04/23/14 384578 Second fine notice for failure to file 2014 campaign statement (covering 2013)
2014 Storey runs for, and wins, reelection to Allegan County Commission
07/31/14 390137 First notice for failure to file July 2014 campaign statement for preceding quarter
08/08/14 390757 Final fine notice for failure to file 2014 annual campaign statement (covering 2013)
09/02/14 392946 $ 1,000 fine assessed for failure to file July 2014 quarterly statement
10/29/14 397059 Second fine notice for failure to file July 2014 quarterly statement
01/28/15 401952 Final fine notice for failure to file July 2014 quarterly statement
02/04/15 402418 First notice for failure to file 2015 annual campaign statement (covering 2014).
03/11/15 404717 $ 1,000 fine assessed for failure to file 2015 annual campaign statement (covering 2014).
04/29/15 407131 Second fine notice for failure to file 2015 annual campaign statement (covering 2014).
07/28/15 410241 Further notice for failure to file July 2014 quarterly statement
08/05/15 410827 Final fine notice for failure to file 2015 annual campaign statement (covering 2014)
08/19/15 411244 Further notice for failure to file July 2014 quarterly statement
09/15/15 411831 Files ‘original’ committee statement of organization for ‘Jim Storey for Allegan County’. John F. Hendershot II is new Treasurer. Finance guy at Dig-It, a MITA affiliated MDoT underground contractor. (MITA paid well over half of the cost of SafeRoadsYes!, the campaign for Proposal 2015-01.)
2015 No statement of dissolution filed with the Secretary of State for the ‘Jim Storey for State Representative’ committee
09/16/15 411842 Files statement for period 01/01/12 to 07/20/15. BoE accepts it as the July 2015 quarterly statement.
09/16/15 411845 Refiles statement for period 01/01/12 to 07/20/15. BoE accepts it as correspondence.
09/22/15 411876 SoS BoE issues receipt for $ 2,500 payment. Covers 371098 (2013) and 382003 (2014) in entirety. Partial payment for 392946 (July 2014)

As matters stand now, Mr. Storey still owes the State of Michigan $ 2,500 in fines, at an absolute minimum:

392946 $ 500 [the part left unpaid by 411876]
404717 $ 1,000 for the unfiled 2015 annual statement (covering 2014)
None $ 1,000 [never filed 2000 campaign statement for which BoE never
assessed fine, but can be assessed because 2000 statement (covering 1999) has never been filed. Presumes the statute of limitations would only apply from time of filing.]

Mr. Storey may think his $ 2,500 payment cleared up this mess, but it did not. No third rank clerk at the Secretary of State’s office is authorized to ‘plea bargain’ half his missed filing fines away..

Mr. Storey acted as his own campaign committee treasurer during this entire period, up to the 15 September 2015 Statement of Organization filing (411831). He can’t blame anyone else for this situation

At the Allegan Tea Party Patriots ‘Meet and Greet’ on 22 September Mr. Storey made a big deal about restoring the reputation of the 80th District up in Lansing. Really, after creating this horrendous mess?

Does anyone else have doubts about Mr. Storey’s ability to manage – or even understand – a $ 54 billion state budget after creating this mess? You can bet your bottom dollar that the Harvard Law School educated Democratic candidate in the 80th District special general election will have a field day with this Augean morass.

If Mr. Storey wins the November 3rd primary, the Democrats will be all over AG Schuette and SoS Johnson asking why Mr. Storey was let off for half price on the missed filings, and why charges were not filed under MCL 169.235 (5). With the very capable assistance of our main stream media, I might add. This will break the Bureau of Elections out of their current torpor in a New York second. And make the March 8th special election in the 80th a long, uphill climb for Republicans in the current political environment. Another black eye for our woefully inept state bureaucracy; a bureaucracy under the exclusive control of Republican officeholders.

You Betcha! (11)Nuh Uh.(0)

  1 comment for “Ain’t No Learnin’ in the Fifth Kick of a Mule

  1. September 29, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Number one: NEVER be your own treasurer. An extra set of eyes, objective money tracking and simply a multitasking nightmare avoided by having a person who will watch for deadlines and due dates.

    Finding a person who can be trusted for such a responsibility is tougher than many might think. But if one has good enough support to be elected, then it ought not be a heavy task. Someone will step up to the plate. If no one is available, perhaps its time to reconsider one's plan.

    Storey's problems could have been avoided easily.

    You Betcha! (5)Nuh Uh.(0)

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