LANSING (AP) — A political nonprofit that backed Gretchen Whitmer for governor will pay a $37,500 fine after Michigan’s top election official concluded it violated campaign-finance law by “expressly” advocating for her election in TV ads.

Build a Better Michigan, which spent millions supporting Whitmer, was organized by her allies under section 527 of the U.S. tax code. Unlike an independent “super” political action committee, such organizations can’t advocate explicitly for one’s election or defeat but can coordinate more closely with candidates.

Whitmer appeared in the ads.

Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson released a letter Friday concluding Build a Better Michigan should have complied with campaign-finance registration and disclosure requirements because the ads included the words “Gretchen Whitmer, candidate for governor.”

Benson entered a conciliation agreement with the nonprofit and Whitmer’s campaign.

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  1. Bob Brandenburg says:

    Many suspected Benson would blindly favor Democrats. Few thought it would be so soon and so blatant. Compare:

    The Detroit News points out similar illegal ads by a GOP group in 2016 resulted in “The Republican group was fined the same amount it had illegally spent. ” The Secretary of State was a Republican.

    Here Democrat Secretary of State Benson only fines the Democrat group $37,500 on over $1.8 million worth of ads.