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Local school officials to examine petitions’ legality

Wayland and Martin school officials were somewhat taken aback Thursday and Friday when parents’ social media groups announced that Brandon Elementary and Baker Elementary parking lots would be the sites for a gubernatorial candidate’s petitions signings.

Word on the street is that Superintendents Dr. Christina Hinds and Brooke Ballee-Stone are investigating reports of such incidents and examining whether they violate state laws.

In both cases, petitions were made available on behalf of Garrett Saldano, who is seeking the nomination for Michigan Governor in the 2022 general election. Both were announced on Facebook.

There is a body of state law from 2016, provided by the Michigan Campaign Finance organization, that forbids political candidates to use public facilities to advance their candidacies:

“…a public body cannot contribute to or make expenditures on behalf of committee’s registered to support or oppose candidates and ballot questions. This prohibition includes Candidate Committees, Ballot Question Committees, PACS, Super PACS and Political Party Committees nor can a public body make independent expenditures to influence voters in an election.

“A public body is:

  • A state agency, department, division, bureau, board, commission, council, authority, or other body in the executive branch of state government.
  • The legislature or an agency, board, commission or council in the legislative branch of state government.
  • A county, city, township, village, intercounty, intercity, or regional board; a council, school district, special district, or municipal corporation; or a board, department, commission, or council or an agency of a board, department, commission, or council.
  • Any other body that is created by state or local authority or is primarily funded by or through state or local authority, which body exercises governmental or proprietary authority or performs a government or proprietary function.

“EXAMPLES OF PROHIBITED USES

The prohibition includes, but is not limited to the use of personnel, office space, computer hardware or software, property, stationery, postage, vehicles, equipment, supplies, provide volunteer personal services or other public resources.

  • A public body is prohibited from displaying political signs, brochures, pamphlets, etc in any governmental building or government property.”

Balle-Stone was expected to take up the matter in a Martin Board of Education meeting Monday and Hinds said she would look into the matter as soon as possible.

The law does provide for fines to be levied against those who violate the statute.

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