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AG candidate files complaint against rival for Democratic nomination

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Michigan Democratic attorney general candidates Dana Nessel, left, and Pat Miles.

A state attorney general candidate has filed a complaint against his opponent. Democrat Pat Miles says fellow Democrat Dana Nessel violated the Michigan Campaign Finance Act.

“Michigan has some of the weakest campaign finance laws in the first place. And if you can’t even follow that law, then what kind of attorney general would you be?” Miles said.

The complaint filed with the Secretary of State’s office says Nessel didn’t report multiple fundraising events. Events she publicly advertised on her campaign website. Miles also says Nessel didn’t report certain types of contributions. And he says she took money out of the campaign for herself without explaining the payment.

Nessel’s campaign calls the move a political stunt.

“The fact that this comes directly from Pat Miles himself, and not an unbiased third party, proves just how craven this stunt is, and that he doesn’t have any supporters to advocate for him -- just himself and his paid staff,” said campaign spokesperson Angela Wittrock in a statement. “Not only are these attacks pathetic and ridiculous, they are fundamentally undemocratic. What kind of Democrat files a complaint against a fellow Democrat for working to make certain that every person who wants to participate in the endorsement convention has the opportunity to cast a vote?” 

But Miles said it’s not a stunt. “When you’re running for attorney general, you need to take the law seriously,” he said. “And if you can’t follow the law as a candidate, how are you going to follow it as attorney general?”

A spokesperson for the Michigan Secretary of State says, in general, if their department finds a violation, the accused gets a chance to informally fix the filing problems. There can also be fines. The Secretary of State now has five days to review it and decide whether to dismiss it, or request a response to the Nessel campaign.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R