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Fifteen candidates disqualified from Michigan's August primary ballot

an absentee ballot on an envelope
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

A handful of Democratic and Republican candidates have been disqualified from Michigan’s August primary ballot due to problems with filing paperwork.

The Michigan Department of State announced a total of 15 disqualifications in a press release Tuesday evening.

The affected campaigns include a candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump, a star witness in the debunked election conspiracies of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and an incumbent state senator.

The department is barring most of those candidates for issues like unsettled fees and fines and missing reports at the time of submitting their affidavit of identity. Part of that form requires candidates to verify those problems had been taken care of.

LaMar Lemmons is chief of staff for Senator Betty Jean Alexander (D-Detroit), one of the disqualified candidates. He said the issue with her campaign was a $50 late fee.

Lemmons said the enforcement of campaign finance laws is going beyond their original intent.

“Now it’s being used against the candidates with the least resources to make sure they cross their T’s and dot their I’s, and they’re being removed for the most minor of infractions,” he said.

Lemmons said the campaign is planning to take legal action to remain on the ballot.

Alexander’s campaign wouldn’t be alone.

Republican state Senate candidate Mellissa Carone also said Wednesday that she plans to explore her legal options.

Carone’s House campaign was blocked earlier this year due to a total of $125 in late filing fees and a couple missing reports. They were still outstanding at the time she filed to run for the House, meaning the state counted her affidavit as containing false statements.

Carone blamed her old campaign manager for misleading her and said she was careful to avoid mistakes the second time around. That included asking for help from election workers when she filed to run for the state Senate.

“They went through all of my financials with me, they knew the circumstances because I kept them very up to date with what was going on,” Carone said.

But, in a response from the Michigan Department of State provided by Carone, officials notified her Michigan law won’t allow candidates on the ballot in an election cycle once they’ve submitted false statements in an affidavit of identity.

“This false statement cannot be cured by correcting the affidavit, withdrawing the affidavit, or submitting an affidavit to run for a different office in the same election; the Election Law strictly prohibits the filing official from certifying the ballot 'the name of a candidate' who executes an affidavit containing a false statement,” reads the letter signed by Michigan Director of Elections Jonathan Brater.

When asked for a comment, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of State pointed to Tuesday’s press release.

That release said four of the 15 disqualified candidates either had missing information or were not eligible in their jurisdiction:

  • Faiz Aslam (6th District Representative in Congress)
  • Michael Shallal (57th District Representative in State Legislature)
  • Steven Thomas (31st District State Senator)
  • Howard Weathington (3rd District State Senator)

The state found the other eleven, including Alexander and Carone, to be out of compliance with the Michigan Campaign Finance Act:

  • Betty Alexander (6th District State Senator)
  • Mellissa Carone (11th District State Senator)
  • Ronald Cole (7th District Representative in State Legislature)
  • Kahlilia Davis (36th District Court Judge)
  • Eddie Kabacinski (14th District Representative in State Legislature)
  • Chris Martin (54B District Court Judge)
  • Vernon Molnar (7th District State Senator)
  • Jon Rocha (78th District Representative in State Legislature)
  • Alberta Talabi (3rd District State Senator)
  • Chase Turner (49th District Representative in State Legislature)
  • Lawanda Turner (11th District Representative in State Legislature)

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers still must determine whether other candidates have submitted enough valid signatures with their filing paperwork to qualify for the ballot.