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AG Nessel: GOP fundraisers hid donors' names to weaken Whitmer's emergency power

Unlock Michigan lawsuit
Unlock Michigan lawsuit
Posted at 3:23 PM, Feb 21, 2024

LANSING, Mich. — Attorney General Dana Nessel charged two longtime Republican political fundraisers on Wednesday for their alleged involvement in an effort to hide the names of people who donated to a campaign that aimed to reduce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heather Lombardini, 47, of Okemos faces three misdemeanor violations of Michigan’s campaign finance act and a felony charge of uttering and publishing an untrue affidavit.

Meanwhile, Sandy Baxter, 63, of Caledonia stands accused of perjury for lying under oath to investigators.

Lombardini served as the treasurer for Michigan! My Michigan! (MMM) and president of Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility (MCFR).

According to Nessel, the two women helped raise money for the Unlock Michigan ballot-question initiative in 2020 and 2021 though MMM and MCFR, which, due to their nonprofit status, did not need to identify their contributors.

However, Nessel says under current Michigan campaign finance laws, those donors should have been disclosed.

According to Nessel, the groups contributed nearly $2.7 million to Unlock Michigan.

The complaint that sparked the investigation indicated former Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey coordinated with Lombardini.

During a press conference, Nessel noted her office uncovered “clear” evidence of that but said Shirkey cannot be charged since he did not serve as an officer for either MMM or MCFR.

“Dark money threatens the impartiality of elected officials in all levels of government and we’ve seen that far too often, it lends itself to political corruption,” said Nessel. “Transparency in spending around elections leads to more accountability and it decreases the influence wealthy individuals or special interest groups can levy.”

Nessel went on to call for harsher penalties for Michigan campaign finance law violations and reforms to it.

Read the full affidavit below:

Baxter Packet Redacted by WXMI on Scribd