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Livingston County Republican Party Treasurer resigns, cites changes made to bank account transparency

One of the officers in the Livingston County Republican Party (LCRP) has resigned after he says changes were made to how the party’s funds were monitored and maintained.

According to an email from former Party Treasurer Jim Dettling, he said he had stepped down from the position due to changes in the role of Treasurer, specifically regarding access to the party’s bank accounts.

In the email, which was sent to the Executive Committee (EC) and obtained by GIGO News, Dettling noted that the party’s Treasurer is an elected officer who is responsible to the EC and takes an oath of office to “faithfully discharge the duties of the office of Treasurer.”

According to the Livingston GOP’s website, the EC is made up of twenty individuals including Party Chair Jennifer Smith, Executive Director Jessica Barefield, Secretary Janine Iyer, as well as Dettling.

Dettling said the party’s bylaws clearly state that the Treasurer “shall have the care and custody of all moneys paid to the LCRP and deposit such funds in the name of the LCRP in a bank designated by the Executive Committee, and shall pay all bills charged to the LCRP as authorized by the Executive Committee.”

However, Dettling said that recently Chair Jennifer Smith and the Finance Committee instituted a new financial plan that removed the Treasurer as a signatory at PNC Bank.

As a result, Dettling said it meant that as Treasurer he could no longer sign checks, pay bills, have access to the party’s two accounts at PNC Bank, administer and/or maintain the bank accounts, transfer funds between accounts and maintain debit cards and their usage.

“Therefore I cannot perform the two most important duties of the Treasurer which are to have “care and custody of the funds” and to “pay all bills,” said Dettling. “I do this with a heavy heart, since I feel that the treasurer is elected by the EC and should have the responsibility to be a counterbalance to and a verifier of the chair’s spending.  I made an attempt at the last EC meeting to have the EC require the Treasurer to be a signatory, but that failed in a 10-9 vote.”

Dettling said that under the new financial plan, Smith, as the Chair, would approve an expense, her appointee would write the check and then either she or the appointee would sign the check to pay the bill for that expense.

“This system would make me vulnerable to not fulfilling my oath to that office,” said Dettling.

A request for comment was made to both Dettling and Smith, but has yet to be returned. Executive Committee member Dan Wholihan was also asked to comment, but he declined to do so.

In reaction to the email, one party member and State GOP Delegate, Cindi Holland, said she was advising party members to rethink who they made political donations to.

“I advise Livingston County Republicans to save the the donations they would have made to LCRP and give it directly to the Candidates you support for the 2024 election cycle,” she posted. “That is exactly what I intend to do myself Without checks and balances the bylaws actually call for, I will not be sending another donation to LCRP. “

Meanwhile, a hearing is set next week in Washtenaw County on a motion by Smith to dismiss a PPO issued against her. The order was sought by Brighton attorney Sarah Cross, who maintains that Smith has harassed and intimidated her on multiple occasions over the last year. Smith has denied those allegations.

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