THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH COMMENTS FROM THOMAS MORGAN, ONE OF TWO PEOPLE CHALLENGING COMMISSIONER DENNIS LOUNEY IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY.
Ingham County Commissioner Dennis Louney has been referred to the Michigan Bureau of Elections at the Secretary of State’s office for using his county email address on his campaign literature.
“I believe Dennis Louney is in violation of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act,” Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum wrote in a July 13 letter to state election officials. “because the campaign literature included a taxpayer-funded office email for campaign purposes as prohibited by law.”
The issue came to light after Alexis Ruble filed a complaint with Byrum July 12.
The referral could result in an investigation and fines by the state elections officials.
Louney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Byrum confirmed by phone that the letters filed on her website were authentic and had been sent to state officials.
After Brian McGrain resigned as the 10th District Commissioner for the County Commissioner in January, so he could take a position with the city under the administration of Mayor Andy Schor, Louney was appointed to the post in Feb. 2018. The district covers parts of the eastside, Lansing Township and East Lansing.
Meanwhile, county commission colleague Mark Grebner, who wrote the county’s ethics policy, said he’s “not too concerned.”
“Part of being ethical is noticing when something is wrong and not doing it again,” he said. “I tend not to worry the first time something happens.”
This is the second time Louney has come under fire in as many weeks. Last week, City Pulse reported that his opponents in the Democratic primary were calling foul on his motion to approve a bond contract for the Ingham County Drain Commission. Louney works for the Spicer Group, which contracts with the Drain Commission. But county commissioners dismissed allegations of unethical conduct in the vote.
One of those candidates, Thomas Morgan, is a former editor at City Pulse. The other candidate is Robert Pena.
Morgan, reached by Facebook Messenger late Tuesday night, called the situation “another example” of Louney “flouting ethics laws.” (FULL STATEMENT BELOW THE DISCLOSURES)
Grebner, who has served on the county legislative body for over four decades, said the policy was written to prevent county officials, included elected leaders and employees, from developing ongoing enrichments related to their jobs.
THIS IS A DEVELOPING STORY. IT WILL BE UPDATED AS MORE INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I was employed at City Pulse and at times Morgan served as my editor on stories.
Morgan Full Statement:
I’m focused on the the issues that matter to the working families I speak with everyday, like making corporations may their fair share for road repairs and protecting health care and other county services for seniors and kids. That said, this is yet another example of Interim Commissioner Louney flouting ethics laws. First he used his position on the county board to enrich his employer and himself, and now he’s using taxpayer resources for his political campaign. Everyday citizens have to follow the law, and Interim Commissioner Louney should, too.