Campaign filing errors cost Charlevoix County Prosecutor Allen Telgenhof $1,500

Benjamin Gohs

News Editor

Allen Telgenhof
Allen Telgenhof

County Prosecutor Allen Telgenhof recently reconciled several Michigan Campaign Finance Act violations after promising to pay a $1,500 fine and refile some forms.

The Michigan Department of State’s Bureau of Elections investigated the matter after a Charlevoix County resident filed complaints with both it and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office beginning in October of 2013.

“The Michigan Bureau of Elections has determined that, although I disclosed every penny contributed and every penny spent on my campaign, with respect to three contributions, I reported them using the wrong report,” Telgenhof stated in a Thursday May 1 press release. “The contributions were listed on a post-primary campaign statement and should have been listed on a late contribution report.”

He added, “I had no campaign treasurer and did my own record-keeping and reporting. I take full responsibility for these mistakes.”

According to Telgenhof, rather than filing a late contribution report, he disclosed those contributions in his post-primary campaign finance report.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Act (MCFA) required those to be reported utilizing a late contribution report.

“The MCFA requires a candidate or treasurer of a committee to file complete and accurate campaign finance statements and reports,” stated Lori A. Bourbonais of the Michigan Department of State Bureau of Elections in her April 1 letter to Telgenhof. “A person who knowingly files an incomplete or inaccurate statement may be subject to a civil fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, a candidate, treasurer, or record-keeper who knowingly omits or under-reports individual contributions or individual expenditures … is subject to a civil fine of not more than $1,000 or the amount of the contributions and expenditures omitted or under-reported—whichever is greater.”

For the primary election in 2012, late contributions were defined as those received from July 23 through Aug. 4.

Telgenhof received three contributions of $500 each on July 25. The primary election was held on Aug. 7, 2012.

“Having found these violations, the department must now endeavor to correct the violation or prevent a further violation by using informal methods,” stated Bourbonais.

Telgenhof had also been accused—by the same county resident—of failing to disclose certain contributions and expenditures relating to two campaign events.

However, the bureau of elections found no reason to believe any funds were raised at what Telgenhof referred to as “meet and greets,” and that all costs associated with those events were disclosed on Telgenhof’s reports.

According to Telgenhof, it was merely a matter of not listing addresses for three contributors and failing to show cumulative totals for two contributors in addition to using the wrong form to report three contributions.

“The department finds that there is insufficient evidence to show that any funds were raised at these events and this portion of Mr. (Bob) Taylor’s complaint is dismissed,” Bourbonais stated

Telgenhof has entered into a conciliation agreement with the Michigan Secretary of State which allows him to pay the $1,500 fine and re-file the necessary documents.

“The Secretary of State alleges that there may be reason to believe that the respondent violated MCL 169.232(1) by failing to report late contributions within 48 hours after receipt,” it stated in the agreement. “There may also be reason to believe that the respondent violated MCL 169.233(10) by filing an incomplete 2012 pre-primary campaign statement and an incomplete 2012 post-primary campaign statement.”

By entering the voluntary conciliation agreement, Telgenhof promised to file—with the Charlevoix County Clerk—a late contribution report covering July 25, 2012 and amended 2012 pre- and post-primary campaign statements which accurately reflect business addresses for all contributors of more than $100, and cumulative totals where necessary.

He also agreed to pay $1,500 to the Charlevoix County Clerk for failing to file a late contribution report.

Finally, Telgenhof agreed to provide proof of filing of the late contribution report and amended 2012 pre- and post-primary reports, along with proof of payment of the late contribution report late filing fee to the secretary of state.

“The secretary of state and the respondent further agree that the complaint and the investigation that resulted in this agreement are disposed of and will not be the basis for further proceedings,” it stated in the agreement, adding that the secretary of state reserves the right to act on any violations of the agreement.