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Lansing mayor denies directing his re-election campaign staffers to donate to city council candidate

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (seen here at the lanuch of his re-election campaign) denies directing his campaign staffers to donate money to city councilwoman Kathie Dunbar's campaign

The Michigan Secretary of State’s office is investigating allegations that Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero’s re-election campaign may have violated state election law by funneling money to a city council candidate.

State law (Section 44 of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act) forbids paying individuals money with the understanding that the money will be donated to a political campaign.   That’s what a complaint filed with the state claims the Bernero re-election campaign did back in June.

Two staffers received larger than normal paychecks.  Then a few days later, both made one thousand dollar contributions to the campaign of Lansing city councilwoman Kathie Dunbar.

Mayor Virg Bernero says his re-election campaign is responding to the investigation.   Bernero insists he did not direct the staffers to donate to Dunbar’s campaign.

“I’m not actually cutting the checks. I wasn’t even aware of what they are making exactly. And I couldn’t tell you what the figure is now,” says Bernero

The mayor says his campaign staffers can choose to use their paychecks as they want.

Bernero says the complaint filed with the Secretary of State is nothing more than “an October Surprise”, coming as it does a few weeks before November’s election.

Bernero is seeking his third term as Lansing’s mayor.

The mayor is expected to easily win re-election next month, but his supporters on the city council face tougher re-election bids.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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