Remember Eagle Strategies, the double secret group that purchased negative campaign ads against Michigan GOP gubernatorial hopeful Pete Hoekstra, saying he’s not conservative enough?
At long last, we may have an answer as to who was behind the group: GOP attorney Eric Doster. [Associated Press]
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A policy committee for the Michigan Republican Party has asked the party’s legal counsel to step down until a complaint over a radio ad targeting GOP gubernatorial candidate Pete Hoekstra is resolved.
At issue is whether attorney Eric Doster had any ties to the group that ran the ads, Eagle Strategies, and whether he should have disclosed any possible ties to party Chairman Ron Weiser.
A message left at Doster’s law office in Lansing seeking comment was not returned Wednesday.
"It is unfortunate that the resolution passed by the policy committee contains factual errors that unfairly characterize Mr. Doster," Weiser said in a statement Wednesday. "Eric Doster is a widely respected Republican Party activist."
The matter will be discussed by the full Michigan Republican State Committee on Saturday, Weiser said.
After the anti-Hoekstra ad aired in February in southeast Michigan, the congressman’s campaign sent a letter asking Attorney General Mike Cox, also a GOP gubernatorial candidate, to investigate the legality of a group called Eagle Strategies.
Hoekstra campaign lawyer Charles Spies complained that no public information was available on Eagle Strategies or who was behind it. The attorney for GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder then asked the secretary of state’s office to determine if Eagle Strategies broke campaign finance laws.
The organization appeared tied to a group called Peace and Prosperity, which had filed an assumed name certificate for the name "Eagle Strategies" a week after the anti-Hoekstra ad aired, Snyder attorney Daniel Carlson wrote in his complaint letter.
Doster was listed as the resident agent for Peace and Prosperity.
Neither the secretary of state nor the attorney general has issued any findings regarding the complaints.
The Republican gubernatorial contest has already seen several spates of negative ads this year. Along with the anti-Hoekstra ads, there have been automated calls, a billboard, radio ads and negative websites launched against Snyder and another GOP candidate, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard. An independent group called the Michigan Civic Educational Fund was behind those efforts.
The infighting apparently is starting to be noted by party leaders.
In asking Doster to temporarily recuse himself, the GOP policy committee said it was Doster’s responsibility as legal counsel "to keep the party chairman informed of potential conflicts of interest in representing multiple clients."
Its resolution urged Doster to step down "until the Michigan Secretary of State’s Election Division has concluded their investigation into his involvement as resident agent for Eagle Strategies Project."
Snyder’s campaign spokesman, Jake Suski, said the policy committee took the right step.
"The party should do everything within its power to protect its impartiality, which includes asking the legal counsel to step aside when he’s the registered agent for an organization that’s under investigation for an attack against a Republican gubernatorial candidate," Suski said.