LeRoy Burcroff, the mayor of Romulus, Michigan, defended using $4,500 in campaign donations so that he could pay for his daughter’s wedding. Burcroff didn’t see the problem with using donated funds to pay for the open bar at a yacht club, according to a Friday report from local ABC News affiliate WXYZ.
The mayor said that he felt it was OK because he believed his daughter’s wedding doubled as a “campaign event.” Daniel Wholihan, Burcroff’s attorney, said the wedding was related to the campaign because a number of wedding guests worked for LeRoy Burcroff on his campaign.
Executive Director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, Simon D. Schuster, didn’t agree. “If the wedding of your own daughter could be a campaign event, what sort of event cannot be a campaign function?” asked Schuster. He added that such “broad latitude that elected officials have to at least attempt to explain away potentially inappropriate financial transactions is striking.”
Wholihan replied, saying that even though the payment was “poor optics,” he didn’t view it as a legal violation.
The mayor has been plagued with allegations since earlier this year when Burcroff’s campaign was investigated by the Michigan Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson (D). The investigation began after a complaint questioning a number of purchases made by the campaign.
In May, Daniel Wholihan sent a letter to the state saying LeRoy Burcroff used his campaign contributions to pay for $4,500 in expenses from the wedding. Wholihan admitted that Burcroff used almost $15,000 from campaign funds to make donations to his church. It was later revealed that campaign dollars were also used in the purchasing of a Jeep.
WXYZ was the first to find that the Romulus mayor used campaign funds, including $6,000 worth of payments to his children, brother, and son-in-law for office rent and campaign office maintenance. The local news outlet also mentioned $3,800 in membership fees at the Belleville Yacht Club, which happened to be the same yacht club where his daughter’s wedding was held.
After the backlash from the report, Wholihan said that Burcroff has since returned $20,000 to his campaign.
“Does this seem to represent, in my mind, an offering of contrition?” Schuster asked. “Perhaps. I think it remains to be seen whether the department would find that amenable.” The Secretary of State declined to comment on the status of their ongoing investigation into LeRoy Burcroff.
According to the city of Romulus’ website, LeRoy Burcroff is a Navy veteran, local business owner, and father of three children, who “believes that integrity-driven leadership, outstanding customer service, safe neighborhoods, financial stability, and a ‘business friendly’ city administration are important areas for local government to focus on.”