Michigan Democratic Party Files FEC Complaint After John James Begs for Outside Dark Money Support

Today, the Michigan Democratic Party filed a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint following John James’ plea for outside air support from Republican groups. Just hours after an internal memo from James’ campaign was reported in the press soliciting and directing dark money spending, it was announced that Mitch McConnell’s dark money group is spending $4.5 million in ads to prop up James’ flailing campaign.

MDP is calling on the FEC to conduct an immediate investigation into James’ apparent illegal solicitation of dark money spending in support of his campaign, which has been down in public polling by an average of 10 points and “just hasn’t been able to gain traction.” The ad released by McConnell’s dark money group was immediately called out for its “misleading” claims and “false conclusion” by an independent news organization.  

Here are the facts:

  • On August 11, POLITICO reported that no major independent groups supporting the Republican Party had bought airtime leading up to the election in support of John James. 
  • On August 18, POLITICO published a memo from the James campaign’s general consultant to the James campaign’s finance and steering committees reportedly “calling for outside air support from Republican groups.” 
  • Within hours of the memo being published, Roll Call reported that One Nation, a dark money group with ties to Mitch McConnell, was placing its first ad buy of the cycle in Michigan totaling $4.5 million to benefit John James.
  • A federal candidate, or agent of a candidate’s campaign, is prohibited from soliciting or directing funds to help their campaign from dark money groups. The memo published was clearly written to solicit and direct the spending of dark money to support James’ campaign.  

“John James will stop at nothing to try to save his flailing campaign, even if it means apparently violating federal law to get dark money support with ads that lie to voters,” said Michigan Democratic Party spokesperson Elena Kuhn. “James continues to demonstrate he’s in the pocket of special interests and Mitch McConnell – not an independent voice for Michigan working families – and would push a dangerous agenda of gutting protections for pre-existing conditions coverage and Great Lakes funding, and enabling Betsy DeVos’ anti-public education agenda.”

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