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Republican candidate for Senate John James raised about $12.5 million in his race against Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) in his 2018 run for U.S. Senate. The race resulted in a complaint against James that he was working with outside PAC groups – contrary to campaign finance law. That complaint was eventually dismissed by the Federal Election Commission. Now both campaigns are facing accusations of new FEC violations. A Washington, D.C. based group, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, is accusing James’ opponent, U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Township) of illegal coordination with outside PACs. Peters’ campaign has denied the accusations. According to the complaint, Peters’ campaign illegally coordinated with outside organizations that support his candidacy through Peters’ webpage. The Center for Responsive Politics alleges that James’ 2020 campaign has violated FEC coordination law when his former campaign chair, Tori Sachs, didn’t wait the mandatory 120-day cooling period before her new dark money group, Better Future Michigan, ran $244,000 in attack ads against Peters. A campaign expert stated that spending coordination between a candidate and big money outside groups is “tantamount to a candidate accepting illegal campaign contributions because super PACs and dark money groups can accept unlimited amounts of money from individuals, labor unions, and corporations.” The complaint against Peters, at press time, it had yet to be dismissed – and both are likely will go nowhere, regardless if they are valid or not. The reason? President Trump has failed to fill three vacancies on the six-member FEC, and there is no indication that those vacancies will be filled anytime soon. In order to take up a complaint, the commission needs a minimum of four members to have a quorum.


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