Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 23, 2014

State investigates House candidate for improper email use

TRAVERSE CITY — The Michigan Secretary of State’s office is investigating a complaint that Democratic state House candidate and former school superintendent Tom Stobie improperly used his school email to conduct campaign business.

The complaint, filed by Kimberly Jorns, executive director for the Michigan Republican Party, contends Stobie’s use of his Frankfort-Elberta Area Schools email violated the Michigan Campaign Finance Act.

“Mr. Stobie made numerous instances of express advocacy from his school-district email account,” Jorns wrote in the complaint. “Mr. Stobie also sought campaign contributions using public resources.”

Stobie is running against Rep. Ray Franz, R-Onekama, to represent the 101st state district, which includes Leelanau and Benzie counties.

Officials at the state office decided to investigate the complaint on June 18 and gave Stobie 15 business days to respond. MCFA violations could result in fines.

“Just because we’re going forward doesn’t mean that he’s guilty of anything,” said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for the department.

Stobie said he hadn’t received a copy of the complaint as of today and would not comment.

“It’s really premature for me to comment until I get the actual complaint,” Stobie said.

Jorns attached several emails in her complaint that she said shows Stobie using his school address to communicate with people about and solicit information for his campaign.

The complaint shows exchanges between Stobie and others that indicate he knew he wasn't supposed to use his school email.

One exchange is attached to the complaint as follows:

Stobie responded with his school email to an invitation to a League of Conservation Voters event and asked the people who sent the invitation to send over a list of their donors.

They agreed to send the list over. Seven minutes later, Stobie urged them to use his Yahoo email in the future.

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