Music and NPR News for Central and Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Michigan Dems fined $500,000 over political bingos

Flickr User Michael Coté


The Michigan Democratic Party owes half a million dollars in fines over problems related to bingo games used as political fundraisers.


It’s one of the largest fines ever levied by the Federal Elections Commission.          

The state Democratic Party ran bingo games for about 14 years to generate small donations, usually in cash. 

The problems were found on the watch of then-party chair Lon Johnson. He says an internal review turned up several problems, including more than four million dollars in contributions that went unreported.

“And when you find a problem of that magnitude, or any magnitude, you have a responsibility and an obligation to self-report.”

“I’ve always believed that how you run a campaign or how you run a political party is indicative of how you will govern, and I think it’s important that we follow the law.”

Johnson says the state party discontinued its bingo fundraisers after the problems were found. Democrats in Michigan used bingo fundraisers for about 14 years before they were stopped.

“And when we discovered the bingo operation wasn’t in compliance, we immediately took steps to shut it down. We did our own internal investigation, and   turned over the information we uncovered to the Federal Election Commission.”


The bingo games are largely cash operations. The violations include not reporting more than four million dollars in donations.