State: School Broke State Campaign Finance Law

Michigan Capital Confidential reported in October 2012 that concerns had been raised that Traverse City Area Public Schools possibly violated state law by using tax dollars to print and mail a brochure to voters urging them to “support the continuation of TCAPS’ long-term capital infrastructure improvement plan by authorizing a bond proposal on November 6, 2012.”

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TCAPS Superintendent Stephen Cousins told Capitol Confidential at the time that the district “consulted with its lawyers” about the brochure.

“In our opinion, the statement is factual in nature in that the board of education is asking voters to continue to support the long-range strategic plan for capital improvements on a district-wide basis,” he said in an email.

Interlochen Public Radio has now reported that the Secretary of State issued a letter saying the brochure violated the Michigan Campaign Finance Act and has requested more information from the district. The state hopes to resolve the matter “informally” by May 6, according to IRP.

The letter says the district “urged voters to take specific action” and that state law prohibits “the use of public resources” in such instances.

The $100 million bond was ultimately defeated by voters, according to IPR.