County candidate files complaints with state over political signs

MARQUETTE – Marquette County Board candidate Nick Smaby said he’s filed complaints on four other District 6 candidates with the Michigan Department of State alleging violations of campaign finance law.

District 6 encompasses Chocolay and Sands townships and portions of the city of Marquette.

Smaby, who issued a press release this morning on the issue, said Democratic candidates Erik Booth, Karen L. Alholm and Dwight Brady, along with Republican Mark Curran, have yard signs that do not meet the qualifications outlined in Michigan’s Campaign Finance Act 388 of 1976.

The law requires all signs to indicate who paid for the signs and show an address for the person paying for the signs.

Smaby, a Republican, has alleged Curran and Brady have no information about who paid for the signs nor an address listed on their yard signs, filing complaints against them June 13. Smaby filed complaints June 25 against Booth and Alholm for not listing the address of the person paying for the signs.

“It’s a case of they’re not operating legally and I just think everybody should have a level playing field,” Smaby said.

He added that the issue wasn’t just confined to District 6 candidates.

“There’s illegal yard signs everywhere,” he said.

Smaby also said he was hoping the District 6 candidates would fix their signs prior to the Aug. 5 election.

“The primary will be over by the time any possible enforcement action could be taken,” Smaby said. “What I’d really like is they fix their yard signs or take them down if they want to play by the rules.”

According to the Michigan Secretary of State Office, which oversees elections, if a filed complaint meets a slate of qualifications – including evidence to support the allegations – then the alleged violator will receive written notice from the state that will include a copy of the complaint. From there, the alleged violator has a chance to file a response. After that, the complainant can file a response. Both parties receive periodic reports about any actions taken by the state during the complaint process.

The state can then find the allegations to be untrue, in which case the complaint would be dropped.

If the state finds for the complainant, it would work with the violator to correct the violation or prevent further violations.

Curran said he was unaware of the requirements to include information on the signs concerning who paid for them when his signs were initially printed.

“We did go back, we printed labels and put them on all of our signs,” Curran said. “Maybe there’s a few we missed, but all of our signs were paid for by the Committee to Elect Mark Curran for County Commissioner, and we appreciate Nick for bringing that to our attention.”

Curran also noted his campaign was self-funded and did not take donations.

Booth said he had met all the requirements on his printed materials except for printing his home address.

“Both Cook Sign and Johnson’s Printing have been great in helping us get this corrected and we’ve gotten the corrective actions approved by the state,” Booth said.

Brady also said he has taken steps to correct the issue.

“I’ve put that information on some of my signs that are displayed in public,” Brady said, noting stickers with the proper information were added to the signs.

He also said Smaby’s complaints were “extremely petty for a county commission level race.”

Calls for comment to Alholm were not returned by press time today.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.