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When it comes to spending campaign donations, state legislators are on the honor system


It is against the law in Michigan for anyone who holds political office to use campaign funds to pay personal expenses.

That said, it can be challenging to figure out if this is happening when elected officials use campaign money to pay off credit card balances, and then skimp on the details.

Such is the case with Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion, as outlined in a front-page story by Detroit Free Press reporter Paul Egan.

Listen above for Egan's full conversation with Stateside's Cynthia Canty, or read a highlight below.

On how Senator is an "outlier" (though not alone) in the Michigan legislature 

“First of all, he’s term limited, so he has no election to spend money on in terms of advertising or anything like that," Egan said. "He gets a lot of donations, he’s on some important committees, he spends a lot of money, and he charges his credit card bills to his campaign committee and gives very little detail." 

What we do (and don't) know about how campaign money was spent

"Since he became a senator, he’s charged about $114,000 in credit card bills to his campaign fund, and of that amount, about $65,000 was un-itemized. And even where the charges are itemized, it can be very general – you know a one-word comment like, ‘supplies,’ for example.”

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