Pictured: Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann (left) and State Senator Chris McDaniel (right)
Invest in Mississippi PAC and Thomas Datwyler are subjects of an Attorney General investigation for allegedly violating state campaign finance law. The PAC has been running anti-Hosemann ads across the state in the lead up to Tuesday’s Primary Election.
The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office released a statement Friday afternoon saying they have alerted Invest in Mississippi PAC and Thomas Datwyler that an investigation has been opened into potential criminal violations under the Mississippi Election Code, as well as other statutes, pursuant to a complaint filed with their office on August 3, 2023.
The complaint was filed by Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann’s campaign claiming the PAC has violated state campaign finance and reporting laws.
Invest in Mississippi PAC has been running ads across Mississippi attacking Hosemann ahead of the August 8th Primary. Hosemann said in a statement to Magnolia Tribune that the PAC and his main opponent on Tuesday are synonymous.
“The dark money PAC and Chris McDaniel are synonymous. They have dumped almost $1 million in this campaign in the last week to steal the Mississippi Lt. Governor’s race and your vote,” Hosemann said. “Do we really think a Washington dark money PAC cares about Mississippi citizens? Vote on August 8 to send them the answer.”
According to a statement from the Attorney General’s Office, the Legislature made every effort in Mississippi’s Election Code to balance free speech and the integrity of the election process, providing a mechanism by which a corporate entity can exercise speech without exceeding corporate contribution limits. In fact, our law generously protects free speech.
“But that does not mean there is no line protecting the people from illegitimate influence of our democratic system,” the Attorney General’s Office statement read. “The people of Mississippi should be able to expect that those who participate in our electoral process will not seek to exploit this careful balance and step over that line, and in this instance, there is evidence to suggest that has occurred here.”
Invest in Mississippi PAC submitted its organization papers with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office in July. The PAC lists a Wisconsin address with Datwyler shown as the Treasurer and Robert Phillips of Ohio listed as a Director. Datwyler also appeared as the contact on the Committee to Elect Chris McDaniel.
On his LinkedIn page, Datwyler lists his place of work as 9Seven Consulting in Hudson, Wisconsin. The profile says he has been a treasurer and accountant for multiple Senate Campaigns, Congressional Campaigns, Political Action Committees, State Parties, 501c4’s and Small Businesses.
According to The Fredericks News-Post out of Maryland, Datwyler has been connected to the campaign for embattled Congressman George Santos, although his attorney said he turned the job down as Santos’ campaign treasurer. The News-Post reports that Datwyler has been fined more than $20,000 by the FEC in administrative fines “after the agency found reason to believe that he violated federal campaign finance reporting requirements in his official capacity as treasurer for multiple congressional committees.”
On their pre-primary finance report filed on August 2nd, Invest in Mississippi reports to have raised $885,750 this year from mostly four other PACs – American Jobs and Growth PAC (Washington D.C.), Defend U.S. PAC (Washington D.C.), Fund for a Working Congress (Maryland) and Save Our Constitution PAC (Ohio). Invest in Mississippi reports to have spent $440,467, with the majority going for ad buy through Media Ad Ventures for $432,942, leaving the PAC with $445,283 cash on hand.
Magnolia Tribune attempted to contact the McDaniel campaign for comment on this developing news but as of the time of publication no response has been received.
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