The Michigan Republican Party is facing dire financial challenges, according to internal records obtained by The Detroit News. The records show that the party had only around $35,000 in its bank accounts in August, a fraction of the $10 million it should have at this point in the election cycle. The documents also raise questions about whether the party is complying with campaign finance laws.
The party has regularly transferred money from an account typically used for federal elections to other accounts to cover expenses. Earlier this year, party Chairwoman Kristina Karamo’s 2022 secretary of state campaign loaned the party’s federal account $15,000 to prevent it from going into the negative. However, this transaction was not disclosed in campaign finance reports.
The internal records show that the party still had unpaid expenses for the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in September, including fees for speakers like author Dinesh D’Souza and former Arizona candidate for governor Kari Lake. Former Michigan House speaker and former finance chairman for the state GOP, Tom Leonard, commented on the dire situation, saying that the party is not just broke but broken.
The financial troubles and Karamo’s handling of them have caused concern among party members. Warren Carpenter, a businessman and former chairman of the 9th Congressional District’s Republican committee, issued a statement emphasizing that he had no formal involvement in the Mackinac conference. Carpenter was asked to help with the event, but after being told about the party’s financial situation, he advised party leaders to cut expenses.
The Michigan Republican Party’s financial woes come at a critical time, with a little over a year left before the presidential election. The party is expected to have a strong showing in Michigan due to President Joe Biden’s unpopularity. However, the party may have to rely less on the state GOP and more on grassroots efforts and volunteers to fund its campaigns.
Party officials did not respond to requests for comment on the financial situation. However, during a closed-door state committee meeting, Karamo assured members that the party is not going bankrupt. The party’s finances have been a topic of concern for months, with the party reporting about $93,000 in its accounts in July and working on paying outstanding debt.
The internal records show that the party’s accounts have frequently fallen into the red this year, with money being transferred between accounts to meet obligations. The party has also used its federal campaign account, which is usually focused on federal races, to fund the Mackinac conference instead of its “administrative” account.
The financial troubles facing the Michigan Republican Party highlight the challenges that the party is facing ahead of the 2022 and 2024 elections. It remains to be seen how the party will address its financial situation and whether it will be able to effectively compete in upcoming campaigns.