Want to Advertise With Mike and Jon? Click Here to Learn More!

Mike & Jon New Logo Small

Search the Latest Local News

Brighton attorney faces possible campaign finance violation

An alleged campaign finance violation by a local attorney has been referred to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office for possible penalties.

Brighton attorney Sarah Cross, who spearheaded a recall effort against two members of the Brighton Area Schools Board of Education, Trustees Bill Trombley and John Conely, was the target of a complaint filed by attorney Dan Wholihan.

The complaint, which was filed with the Michigan Department of State, alleged the committee organized to lead the recall, “Restore Integrity — Recall Hostility” and Cross, who served as the organization’s treasurer, violated the Michigan Campaign Finance Act.

The complaint was emailed to area media by Jennifer Smith, Chair of the Livingston County Republican Party, who was also the subject of a Personal Protection Order brought against her by Cross, although it was eventually dismissed. Wholihan also serves on the Executive Committee of the Livingston County GOP, as does John Conely.

In the complaint, Wholihan alleged the group and Cross violated the Michigan Campaign Finance Act (MCFA).

“Specifically, the complaint alleges that you did not file your statement of organization in accordance with the statutory deadline, that you failed to file required campaign statements, that you failed to include the required “paid for by” statement on your materials, and, if Ms. Cross paid for the items in question, that she was required to file an independent expenditure report detailing the expenditures,” read a letter to Cross dated September 13, 2022 from the Regulatory Section of the Michigan Bureau of Elections.

Wholihan, who assisted Trombley in his defense against the recall effort, alleged in his complaint that “Between May 6, 2022, and July 25, 2022, many resources were spent on the effort to recall (two Brighton Area School District Trustees), very likely over the $1,000 reporting waiver.”

Cross, in an October 25, 2022 email response to the complaint argued that It was “deficient in that his complaint is not formed after a reasonable inquiry under the circumstances. His entire complaint alleges no basis for the belief that any of the activities exceeded the filing threshold. He simply claims the actions taken in the recall must have been expensive, with no due diligence inquiry into the possible underlying costs of the activities he points to.”

Regardless, Cross was informed in a January 31st letter by the Department of State that there was a potential violation of the Campaign Finance Act and that she had until June 9 to informally resolve the complaint, which would be the preferred solution.

Then on June 20, a letter was sent to Attorney General Dana Nessel officially referring the case to her department for “the enforcement of any criminal penalties under the Michigan Campaign Finance Act. MCL 169.215(10)(a).”

Cross declined to comment when asked about the complaint and notification letter by the AG’s office.

Don't Miss A Thing!

Join the GIGO family and get updates on the latest Livingston County News!

Subscribe to Livingston County News Alerts

More Stories Around Livingston County

LCCA recognizes responsible alcohol retailers

The Livingston County Community Alliance has recognized area retailers for responsibly selling alcohol. The alliance , in conjunction with the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office,  has