Remember when Tudor Dixon disappeared from the campaign trail after being dragged through the primary by Betsy DeVos and her other special interest backers?
While she was ghosting local reporters and refusing to talk to Michiganders about her dangerous plans to ban abortion, gut public education, and eradicate funding for roads and law enforcement, she was going on a $5,000 shopping spree at “luxury clothing stores” that she illegally reimbursed herself for using her campaign funds.
As reported by MLive, the Michigan Democratic Party filed a complaint calling her out for these blatantly illegal purchases that clearly violate campaign finance rules.
Dixon’s campaign didn’t “rebut” the accusation, they think these purchases “fully complied with the law.” But the law is clear, and so is campaign finance expert Steve Liedel who said “I don’t see any way that [purchasing a $2,100 dress] would be a permitted use under the Campaign Finance Act.”
The full complaint against Dixon’s campaign can be found here.
By: Simon Schuster
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon’s campaign finance filings show the campaign spent more than $5,000 at two luxury clothing stores in August.
Now, the Michigan Democratic Party has alleged in a complaint to the Michigan Department of State the campaign was buying designer clothes for Dixon, which they contend is against state campaign finance rules.
MLive obtained the complaint which claims at least two articles of designer clothing Dixon has worn in recent weeks are available from luxury retailer Neiman Marcus and Leigh’s, a high-end boutique in Grand Rapids.
MDP’s campaign finance complaint, filed Tuesday with the Michigan Department of State, shows Dixon wearing the dress during an October appearance on Fox News and a Connecticut fundraiser. Dixon wore what appears to be an identical jacket for the first gubernatorial debate.
The original campaign finance disclosure, filed Friday, didn’t include the transactions, but an amended version of the filing showed more than $26,000 reimbursed to a senior campaign staff member Aug. 30. A senior staffer was reimbursed $2,851 for a transaction at Leigh’s and $2,154 for a payment to Neiman Marcus.
Steve Liedel, a Lansing-based attorney with deep experience in campaign finance matters, disagreed. Liedel was not involved in the complaint but has represented Whitmer’s campaign as a client in the past.
“I don’t see any way that that would be a permitted use under the Campaign Finance Act,” Liedel said in an interview.
A 1979 ruling by the Michigan Department of State said campaigns can pay any expense for a candidate if it’s related to their election but the department has labeled the ruling “obsolete” on their website, and an interpretation in 2007 said expenses must have a “identifiable, tangible benefit that advances the candidate’s nomination or election.” Candidates are unable to keep assets purchased by a campaign under the department’s rules, though Dixon’s campaign contends the clothing is used exclusively for the campaign trail.
“I just would never advise a candidate to spend money on personal items for the candidate or their family,” Liedel said. “The problem is, there’s personal benefit to spending $2,100 on a dress and never going to use it again and never wear it in any other capacity.”
The Federal Election Commission doesn’t allow campaigns to purchase candidates clothing, such as a tuxedo, for political functions.
Barnes, MDP’s chair, in a statement called the payments “an illegal $5,000 luxury shopping spree with campaign funds.”
“From designer clothes to selling out to Betsy DeVos, Dixon has made clear this campaign is about her own personal gain — not working for Michiganders,” she said. “Dixon should take accountability for her actions by immediately returning the funds she illegally took from her campaign to buy designer dresses.”
In 2019, the longtime former director of Michigan’s Bureau of Election told WXYZ’s Ross Jones, “There are several categories that are permissible … and nowhere is personal clothing included.”