County commissioner violated campaign law by wearing Trump hat at public meeting, state rules

By

comment

Zach Lahring. - KALAMAZOO COUNTY
  • Kalamazoo County
  • Zach Lahring.
The Michigan Bureau of Elections issued a formal warning to a Muskegon County commissioner for wearing a Trump 2020 hat during a public meeting in 2019.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Act prohibits public officials from wearing or displaying political campaign material on government property.



The Bureau of Elections received a complaint that Commissioner Zach Lahring displayed a “Trump 2020” hat on his county desk during a public meeting in October 2019 before donning the cap.

“Any piece of clothing that bears the name of a candidate for office inherently expresses support for (or opposition to) that candidate,” Adam Fracassi, an election law specialist at the Bureau of elections, wrote in a letter on Feb. 26. “When such clothing is worn at a public meeting by a public official attending in his or her official capacity, the messages communicated by the official’s apparel become messages communicated in the official’s public capacity."



Lahring contended he did not violate the Michigan Campaign Finance Act because he did not intend to “assist in the reelection of President Trump during board meetings.”

The bureau disagreed, saying the hat “constituted a campaign statement in favor of a candidate during official duties.”

Metro Times couldn’t reach Lahring for comment.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.