Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land’s campaign insisted Thursday that her nearly $3 million in contributions to herself are legal and proper, even as Michigan Democrats called on state and federal authorities to investigate. Land’s campaign this week filed a correction to her federal financial disclosure, revealing a previously undisclosed joint checking account she controls with her husband Dan Hibma from which she has drawn $2.9 million for her race. The Free Press first revealed the existence of the account a week ago, but the campaign’s filing still leaves doubts as to whether the funds drawn from it were put there expressly for campaign use and, if so, whether they may violate contribution limits. Candidates may give as much as they like to their campaigns and can tap liberally into jointly held bank accounts. But the law is murkier on spouses making funds available for a campaign, being constrained by the standard limit of $5,200 per election cycle.
Land’s legal counsel, Charlie Spies, said he is confident the campaign is on safe legal ground.
“Married couples may share income, put their money into joint accounts and spend their resources … as they choose,” he said. “There is FEC (Federal Election Commission) precedent for her being able to use resources from her joint account.”
Precedent, however, is less clear when considering why the U.S. Supreme Court has kept in place contribution limits on spouses and relatives if they could simply move assets among accounts. FEC rulings on the subject have been somewhat inconsistent.