State Concludes Investigation Into Election Complaint By Hartland Activist
August 5, 2017
The Michigan Bureau of Elections has concluded its investigation into allegations that members of the Hartland Board of Education violated the Michigan Campaign Finance Act.
Hartland resident Wes Nakagiri filed several complaints in connection with the May 2nd Sinking Fund proposal in the Hartland Consolidated School district, which passed by a 241 vote margin. One complaint filed in April was in regard to a mass mailing by the district on the issue, which also alleged board members exceeded the amount allowed under law to produce and distribute flyers about the ballot question.
State officials said based on evidence provided, expenditures appear to have totaled $246.93, which is below the $500 threshold that would have required board members to register as a committee. The department did note a section of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act that requires a person who spends $100 or more to advocate the passage of a ballot question to file an independent expenditure report. Board members will need to file those disclosure reports with the Livingston County Clerk’s Office and provide a copy to the state. The department further advised board members that identification statements such as “paid for by” must be on all printed campaign materials. Once that is done, the Bureau of Elections will consider the matter closed.
Meanwhile, a separate complaint against the district was filed for not allowing Nakagiri personal access to use their email server and website to disseminate his opposition viewpoint. That was dismissed, along with a third complaint along similar lines against the Cromaine District Library.
Nakagiri, who says the decisions indicate "Lansing justice truly is blind, willfully blind," claimed the school district violated state election law when its email system was used to distribute information on the Sinking Fund, but denied him equal access. Superintendent Chuck Hughes said at the time they believed they had provided appropriate information to constituents and the Michigan Bureau of Elections agreed. It said equal access to Nakagiri was not warranted under the Michigan Campaign Finance Act and that the complaints were dismissed. Nakagiri responded to that ruling by saying, “This flawed decision enables bureaucrats and government employees to disseminate deceitful information. Michigan taxpayers deserve better. Thus, I will be investigating judicial and legislative options to protect others from a similar travesty.” (JM/JK)