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Dan Kildee gives wealthy donor nearly $200,000 in taxpayer funds

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Michigan Dem strikes deal to rent luxury office space to campaign donor

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Joseph Simonson • October 5, 2022 5:00 a.m.

A Michigan Democrat paid nearly $200,000 in public funds to a campaign donor for luxury office space, a relationship that ethics experts say raises uncomfortable questions.

Rep. Dan Kildee, who represents Michigan’s Fifth District, was first elected in 2012. Since 2019, he has rented office space in the Dryden Building, a luxury property in Flint, Michigan, owned by Phil and Jocelyn Hagemen . House records show Kildee spending around $12,000 to nearly $15,000 per term on office space, who boasts Exposed brick and marble window sills.

The Hagemen have donated nearly $7,000 to Kildee’s House campaigns since 2012, according to public campaign finance documents.

The arrangement appears to violate House rules, which state that House members must not enter into a tenancy agreement with anyone with whom they “have had or continue to have a professional or legal relationship”. At least, Government corruption watchdog and executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civil Trust, Kendra Arnold, told the Free Washington Beaconvoters in Kildee District should know how he spends their money.

“It may fall into the category of not being a wise thing to do, or something voters may not approve of because of the relationship,” said Kendra Arnold, executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civil. Trust. Free Washington Beacon. “The Federal Election Commission doesn’t look closely at these disclosures, they’re just looking to see if there are any major red flags, like the numbers don’t add up. They don’t look at each individual expense. The real oversight comes from the public.”

Kildee has avoided scrutiny in his personal relationships over the years due to the fact that his district has voted majority Democratic in previous election cycles. The redistricting, however, forced him into a close race against Republican and former Trump administration official Paul Junge.

Kildee, who did not respond to a request for comment, also appeared to receive a no-no for his office. A review of the building publicly available financial statements show that Kildee pays significantly less for its office than any other tenant.

Internet provider CenturyLink is another tenant in the Dryden building and pays $18.29 per square foot. Kildee, on the other hand, pays $12.85 per square foot. Advanced Local Media LLC, one of the building’s largest tenants, pays $14 per square foot.

Other members of Congress have come under scrutiny for similar relationships with their landlords. Politics reported in 2020, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.) donated nearly $200,000 in public funds to a longtime friend and campaign donor for office space, an arrangement Politics alleged could be illegal because Gaetz paid less than market value.

The Dryden building is probably the most lavish commercial building in Flint. The product of nearly $7 million in renovations, the building was once described as a “trendy house” speak Detroit Free Press.

Kildee thanked Hagerman for investing millions in renovating the Dryden building during a 2019 interview.

“He bought old, run-down buildings in downtown Flint and turned them into amazing spaces,” Kildee told the Detroit Free Press. “He connects our past and our future in a way that’s really important. He didn’t leave Flint behind when he could have. That sends a pretty strong message.”

But the ambitious renovation of the Dryden building ended in failure. The building is currently listed for sale at just under $4 million, which is well below the cost of the renovations. Many stores at the bottom of the floor have closed, according to local reports.

The Washington Free tag in July reported on Kildee’s campaign strategy of shunning the Democratic Party brand.

An advertisement published by Kildee in July does not mention his party affiliation. The ad also features Kildee claiming he has broken with the Democratic Party, a habit that makes him unpopular with some of his colleagues.

Kildee votes with President Joe Biden 100% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. He is one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D., Calif.) whips, a role in which he lobbies other Democrats to vote on legislation.

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