A Michigan businessman called Democratic Senate candidate Hill Harper to offer $20 million in campaign contributions if he agreed to drop out and instead mount a primary challenge to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, according to a source with direct knowledge of the call.
The source added that Harper declined the alleged Oct. 16 offer from donor Linden Nelson — which would have split the campaign money between $10 million in bundled contributions directly to Harper’s campaign and $10 million in independent expenditures. Harper declined to comment on the record about the alleged call from Nelson, a Michigan entrepreneur and past donor to candidates in both parties, but he recounted the call in the same terms as the source in a post on X after this story’s publication….
It’s not clear if the alleged donation offer would have violated any campaign finance laws, had Harper accepted it. Saurav Ghosh, the director for federal reform at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, said that any potential coordination between a candidate and a donor floating that amount of financing would be illegal.
“It would be illegal for a wealthy donor and a person planning to run for office to essentially coordinate and line up $20 million in financing to support that person’s candidacy; this would raise serious corruption concerns about the candidate being wholly within that one donor’s pocket,“ said Ghosh.
A promise to make a future donation boosting the candidate could count as a contribution under campaign finance laws and could thus qualify as an excessive contribution, Ghosh added, as the promised money would still end up directly benefiting the candidate even if it were routed through an outside group like a super PAC.