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Brugger files complaint over Brandon Hall's election mailers

Alex Doty • Nov 10, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Roughly 500 postcards were sent out prior to the city’s election last week, which called out Grand Haven City Council candidates Mike Cramer and John Hierholzer, and supported candidate Josh Brugger.

Brugger, one of the two winners of last week’s election, is trying to make sure residents know he didn’t support the mailings. He’s filed a complaint with the state regarding the postcards.

The mailers, sent by Brandon Hall’s Save the Grand Haven Cross and Nativity Political Action Committee, featured messages that gave reasons why people shouldn’t vote for incumbent candidate Hierholzer and challenger Cramer. They encouraged people to vote for Brugger instead.

“I wanted to make sure that our community knew, beyond a doubt, that I had nothing to do with Mr. Hall’s PAC and their terribly negative ad campaign,” Brugger said.

In his complaint to the state, Brugger contends that Hall violated several sections of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act.

“There are very simple campaign rules in place for the protection of the entire community,” Brugger said. “Mr. Hall has repeatedly shown that he has a difficult time following the rules. He needs to be held accountable.”

Brugger alleges that that the postcards did not include the required disclaimer that states they weren’t “authorized by any candidate committee," as required by section 47, subsection 1, of the state act. The cards also failed to include the required statement, "with regulated funds," as required by section 47, subsection 4, of the act, he noted.

“It is believed that subsection 1 was egregiously violated, as the ’paid for by’ statement is placed directly adjacent a photograph of (myself), thus implying that I approved this message or am somehow associated with the PAC,” Brugger wrote in his complaint.

Hall said he hasn’t seen Brugger’s complaint, and couldn’t comment on Brugger’s allegations.

“While I cannot comment on his complaint as I have not yet seen it, the Save The Grand Haven Cross and Nativity PAC is officially registered with County Clerk (Justin) Roebuck, and we made it clear who was sending the material,” Hall said. “I will make no apologies for our PAC educating voters about the importance of (last) Tuesday's election after 50 years of Grand Haven tradition was essentially thrown in the trash earlier this year.

”I look forward to addressing the specifics of Councilman-elect Brugger's claims, and I will continue fighting to make sure our cross and Nativity return to Dewey Hill,“ he added. ”This issue is far from over.“

Hall also noted that city voters “sent a clear message” last week when they voted in Brugger over incumbent Hierholzer, therefore booting an incumbent council member for the first time in many years.

“I know that the mailers — as well as some of our other activities preceding the election — were not Councilman-elect Brugger's style, and he is well within his rights to ask the state to review them if he feels it's important,“ Hall said.

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