The head of the local Democrats says a recent political ad featuring the county’s top cop violates the state’s campaign finance laws.

Judy Daubenmier, chair of the Livingston County Democratic Party, says Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy’s use of a county patrol car in an ad for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette violates Michigan campaign finance law. In the ad, which promotes Schuette’s stance on illegal immigration, Murphy is in uniform and standing next to a Livingston County Sheriff’s Department vehicle. Later in the ad, Murphy is walking and talking with Schuette and the vehicle comes into focus with the words “Sheriff” and “Livingston County” clearly visible.

Daubenmier said Schuette, who is currently the state’s Attorney General, showed his “shady” side by using a taxpayer-funded vehicle in ad to “advance his political fortunes.” Daubenmier said she is preparing a campaign finance complaint. When asked about the use of the vehicle,

Sheriff Murphy told WHMI that he disagrees with Daubenmier’s interpretation of the law, adding, “I welcome an investigation, and will cooperate fully. If it is determined that I did do something wrong, I will certainly follow the recommendations to make amends.”

While the rules for using public resources in a campaign listed online by the Michigan Secretary of State say a public official can campaign in his or her uniform because there is no “monetary value in connection with a public official wearing a uniform,” it does prohibit the use of publicly funded vehicles. Daubenmier called for the ad to be taken down and for Murphy to reimburse the county for any expenses incurred in the use of the vehicle, such as fuel costs. (JK)