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Alpena Twp. committee violates Campaign Finance Act by disseminating pro-millage info

Submitted by Phil Heimerl on July 11, 2018 – 12:56 amNo Comment

A committee to support the Alpena Township Fire Millage has seemingly violated the Michigan Campaign Finance Act by disseminating a flyer to township residents asking them to vote “YES” for a fire millage on August 7.

The flyers were inserted with resident’s summer tax bills, which were mailed out last week.

Section 57 of the Campaign Finance Act specifically prohibits townships from using public funds to promote any millage campaigns; and public entities are prohibited from using public funds to disseminate any information on a millage other than factual information.

Township Supervisor Nathan Skibbe told True North Radio Network that he had no idea the flyers were made or that they were included with tax bills.  He also said no trustees were aware of the flyers, and there was no board action taken on them.

“This was an egregious error on behalf of the fire millage committee,” said Skibbe.  “It’s unfortunate but we’re taking a steadfast approach to righting a wrong.”

The matter is currently under investigation by legal staff with the Bureau of Elections.  The maximum penalty for a violation is a fine of up to $20,000.

Fred Woodhams, a spokesperson for the Michigan Secretary of State, said Alpena Township self-reported the suspected violation.  He said that in addition to a fine, the matter could be resolved with a simple warning or could be dismissed altogether.

A copy of the pro-millage flyer can be viewed by clicking here.

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