LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Lansing School Board Trustee Rosalyn Williams owes $1,800 in campaign finance fines and fees.
Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum says Williams had failed to file any of her required finance reporting documents from her campaign in 2022.
The case came to light while 6 News was conducting a routine review of campaign finance records. After an email inquiry, Byrum sent a letter to Williams Friday morning both by email and U.S. Postal Service.
Late Friday afternoon, Williams filed all of the missing reports – which have since been uploaded to the county’s campaign finance database. She has also sought a waiver.
After 6 News inquired about Williams’ campaign finance records, Byrum sent a notice to the trustee.
Shortly before 5 p.m., Williams filed all of her missing campaign finance paperwork. She also filed a letter seeking a waiver from the fines and fees that have been assessed.
“I ask you all forgive me in not complying with the rules and regulations,” Williams wrote in her letter, uploaded to the county at 4:58 p.m. “It was never my intent. I understand whatever decision is to be made and will adhere to as much.”
While her paperwork has been filed, Williams has neither made a payment arrangement nor has she paid anything towards her fines and fees, Byrum says.
Byrum says her records show Williams has not filed:
- Her Statement of Organization. That was due on Aug. 23, 2022.
- Her 2022 Pre-General Election Report. That was due on Oct. 28, 2022.
- Her 2022 Post-General Election Report. That was due on Dec. 8, 2022.
- A Campaign Finance Compliance Affidavit, which was to be signed prior to taking office, on Jan. 1, 2023.
- Her 2023 July Quarterly Report. That was due on July 25, 2023.
As a result of failing to file four of those five documents, Williams owes the county $1,800. That’s $300 for the failure to file her Statement of Organization, and $500 each for the three missing reports. The Affidavit is required under Michigan law for “any candidate subject to Michigan’s Campaign Finance Act who is elected to a state, county, city, township, village or school office. The form must be filed before the candidate assumes office.”
The law has an exception for a candidate who did not raise or spend more than $1,000. However, for a candidate to qualify for the exception, a statement of organization and waiver request must be filed, and granted, by the local clerk. Williams did not file her statement of organization, nor did she seek or receive a reporting waiver, Byrum says.
In a phone call, Williams told 6 News an emailed letter from Byrum sent Friday first made her aware of the campaign finance fines.
“I am homeless right now,” she said.
She has struggled with housing after her south side apartment was red-tagged by the city, she claimed in her letter seeking a waiver of her fines and fees. She also says her son was the survivor of a shooting on Dec. 31, 2022, near People’s Kitchen. She tells the clerk in the letter she spent eight weeks in Sparrow dealing with the aftermath of the shooting. During that time, she says, she had “limited interaction with people and a secured detail” at Sparrow.
“You all are more worried about this $1,800 than my being homeless,” she said and hung up on a reporter.
Byrum says Williams’ claims are “categorically false.”
“She has been sent multiple notices, by email and mail,” Byrum says. “She has had telephone communication with my director of elections, and they have exchanged emails about this.”
Failing to file a State of Organization for over 30 days is a misdemeanor in Michigan, punishable by up to $1,000 in fines. Failing to file a Campaign Finance Compliance Affidavit is a misdemeanor. Signing a Campaign Finance Compliance Affidavit affirming that all required reports have been filed and fines paid, but having not done so is a felony punishable by a fine up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to five years or both.
Byrum says she, at this point, is not prepared to refer Williams to law enforcement.
“It’s been my experience that in this area such violations are seldom taken seriously by law enforcement,” she tells 6 News. “That is why I am focused on helping the candidate comply with the law.”
Ingham County Prosecutor John DeWane’s spokesman Scott Hughes says this afternoon that the office is reviewing whether the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office would handle criminal prosecution in campaign finance violations or if that is handled by the Michigan Secretary of State.