Former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land talks during a Political Action Committee reception Wednesday, May 28, 2014, at the 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Mich.
John L. Russell/Detroit News/AP Photo

Terri Lynn Land’s $3 million problem

Terri Lynn Land, the Republican U.S. Senate hopeful in Michigan this year, served eight years as Michigan’s Secretary of State. This put the GOP official in charge of, among other things, overseeing the state’s campaign-finance laws.
Land should probably know, then, that this Detroit Free Press report is a bit of a problem.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land has given her own campaign nearly $3 million this year and last, but nowhere in her federal financial disclosure form has she listed any bank accounts or other assets in her control worth that much.
Her campaign says it’s an oversight, claiming Land … inadvertently failed to disclose a joint account she has with her husband, Dan Hibma. But it still leaves unanswered questions about the source of the funds. And it raises questions about if such a transfer – if from her husband’s assets – violates the spirit of the campaign contribution law.
Controversies involving campaign finance and disclosure reports can get a little tricky sometimes, but this one is actually pretty straightforward: Land has given her Senate campaign nearly $3 million of her own money. What’s wrong with that? In theory, nothing – there are no legal limits on how much candidates can spend on their own behalf.
But in Land’s case, the Michigan Republican said she doesn’t have $3 million. On the contrary, she specifically filed disclosure forms reporting assets of roughly $1.5 million.
The result is something of a mystery: where’d all this other money come from? How can Land give herself money she doesn’t have?
As Nick Baumann noted the other day, the GOP candidate says there’s been a misunderstanding. There’s this other multi-million-dollar account she shares with her husband, real-estate developer Dan Hibma, which she kept secret by accident. She used millions of dollars from this account, but at the same time, forgot to tell anyone about the account’s existence.
Asked about the purpose and size of this other account, Land initially said she didn’t want to go into any details.
It took a week, but yesterday, Land’s campaign team said she would file an “amended” disclosure statement to address the “clerical error.”
Dave Weigel recently mentioned that GOP officials no longer seem to be talking up Land as one of their top 2014 candidates. Roll Call’s Stu Rothenberg added in a column that he’s had “doubts” about whether the Michigan Republican is a credible candidate, noting, “Those doubts were recently heightened when one person who has met her said Land ‘is so not ready for prime time that it’s amazing.’”