John James Revealed: Dark Money Group Established by James’ Former Top Aide Facing More Questions Amid New FEC Complaint Requesting Investigation into Illegal Coordination

New reporting reveals even more extensive overlap between James campaign and pro-James dark money group and prompts complaint on alleged campaign finance violations

National and Michigan media are reporting on a new complaint filed by the Michigan Democratic Party exposing that the coordination between the shady dark money group “Better Future Michigan” and John James’ Senate campaign is worse than previously disclosed. According to the new report and FEC complaint, James’ former campaign manager and top political aide Tori Sachs started with Better Future Michigan on June 1, 2019 as the group’s founding executive director — 11 days before the group was publicly incorporated and just days before James launched his Senate campaign, after being paid by James’ campaign in May 2019. The timeline strongly suggests Tori Sachs illegally set up this pro-James dark money group on James’ behalf.

James and the dark money group were previously under fire after it was reported that Sachs failed to follow the FEC’s 120-day cooling off period rules after joining the dark money group and subsequently running attack ads against Senator Gary Peters. This news also follows additional reporting from Daily Beast that James’ campaign and Better Future Michigan are under scrutiny for skirting campaign finance law by using the same media buyer and the same digital consulting firm.

The Daily Beast: The Michigan Senate Race Has Become A Sh*t Show Legal Drama

Key Points: 

  • “The head of a dark money group supporting a top Republican Senate recruit in Michigan is threatening to sue state and federal arms of the Democratic Party over allegations that she violated campaign finance laws. But Democrats say the objections only bolster their claims of illegal campaign coordination and now they are filing a Federal Election Commission complaint against the dark money group, formalizing its allegations of illegal politicking…
  • “The dark money outfit is called Better Future Michigan, and it’s run a host of ads going after Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, whom Republican businessman John James hopes to unseat in November. As The Daily Beast reported last week, Better Future Michigan has some notable ties to the James campaign: it’s run by his former campaign manager, Tori Sachs; it’s using the same ad buyer that James used during his unsuccessful 2018 Senate bid; and BFM engaged the James campaign’s top vendor this cycle to help build its website.
  • “Sachs’ involvement led Michigan Democrats and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to allege illicit coordination between BFM and the James campaign. The Center for Responsive Politics, which first noted Sachs’ position as BFM’s executive director, “reports that John James’ campaign appears to have violated FEC coordination law,” the state party wrote on its website in January…
  • “At issue is a specific federal law that bars outgoing campaign staffers from joining a supportive independent political group for 120 days. Sachs drew her last paycheck from the James campaign on May 3, 2019, according to FEC records. Ninety-six days later, on August 7, the group began running its first Facebook ads…
  • “By the time BFM’s ads began running, the group’s website had identified Sachs as its executive director. Democrats said that amounted to a plain violation of the “cooling off” period required of former campaign staffers…
  • “The allegations are now at the center of an FEC complaint filed by Michigan Democrats against Sachs, BFM, and the James campaign on Tuesday. “Based on the available evidence, it appears likely that John James, through his agent, Tori Sachs, illegally established a dark money entity that is raising and spending funds outside of the federal contribution limits, source restrictions and reporting requirements to support James’ election campaign in plain violation” of federal law, the complaint alleges.”

Gongwer: State Dems File FEC Complaint Against James, Consultant

Key Points: 

  • “In the new complaint from the Democratic Party, it is alleged that Ms. Sachs, who was campaign manager for Mr. James’ unsuccessful 2018 U.S. Senate campaign, established Better Future Michigan as an agent of Mr. James. The state party asks for the FEC to investigate…
  • “Similar to the January complaint, it is noted that Ms. Sachs was a consultant for Mr. James and paid from January 2019 through May 3, 2019 before being hired as the founding executive director of Better Future Michigan on June 1, 2019.
  • “It was also noted that Better Future Michigan has spent approximately $300,000 on ads attacking Mr. James’ opponent, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Township)…
  • “Multiple FEC complaints have now been filed against the James campaign during the current cycle.”

The Michigan Democratic Party launched JohnJamesRevealed.com to hold the failed U.S. Senate candidate accountable for his positions – including those made over the course of the 2018 campaign that he then tried to delete after losing that campaign. Since announcing he’d run again, just over six months after his last failed bid, James has been hiding from Michigan voters and refusing to answer questions from Michigan media.