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Michigan GOP, SOS reach deal on campaign finance complaint

July 2, 2021 GMT

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s Republican Party and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office have reached a deal calling for the party to pay $200,000 to resolve a campaign finance complaint.

A conciliation agreement was signed last month and said the payment is “not to be construed as an admission of liability.”

The agreement says $200,000 in undisclosed expenditures were made between August 2018 and February 2019 from a state Republican Party administrative account.

In a Feb. 4, 2021 letter to the state Elections Bureau, outgoing party Chair Laura Cox — on behalf of the state Republican Party — self-reported a possible campaign violation.

Cox said Ann Arbor businessman and University of Michigan regent Ron Weiser paid a Macomb County activist $200,000 to stay out of the secretary of state race in 2018 when Weiser last led the party. Weiser has said the money given to Stan Grot was for legitimate party work.

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Weiser defeated Cox this year for party chair.

Weiser and the Michigan Republican Party said in a release Friday that the agreement with Benson’s office affirmed “no admission of wrong-doing on behalf of the party or any individual within the organization.”

“Had we pursued defending ourselves in litigation, we are confident our arguments would have prevailed in court,” Weiser said. “In the end, the litigation costs to the party would’ve amounted to more than the payment demanded by the secretary of state.”

Weiser said he would personally contribute the $200,000 to the state Republican Party.

Secretary of State spokeswoman Tracy Wimmer said that in conciliation agreements “it is commonplace for the subject of the investigation to claim that there was no wrongdoing.”