Stateside: Dark money in campaign funding

Jan 10, 2013

There is an ongoing trend of furtive campaign funding in Michigan.

Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, said voters should demand transparency from their elected officials and their funding.

Robinson called this undisclosed funding “dark money.”

And the two biggest sources of it are, according to Robinson, Michigan’s Democrat and Republican parties.

“My basic premise is that people don’t spend large amounts of money in politics for philanthropic motives. Essentially, they’re advancing their own interests in politics,” he said.

According to Robinson, citizens have a right to know where the money comes from.

He said there was a shift in campaign funding during the 2000 Election.

“From 2000 through 2012, a majority of the money spent in our Supreme Court campaigns has been from unaccountable sources. The total, now, is well over $30 million in that time.”

Robinson said citizens should not tolerate such secrecy.

“With the Governor, he should just close this 501(c)(4) Committee. If he needs money for extracurricular purposes, he’s got a 527 Committee and he can raise money there. If there are potential donors who won’t participate, that should be too bad. The larger issue is that fact that we’ve allowed our statewide political campaigns to be dominated by unreported donors and spending. That should not be tolerated by the citizens of the state. I understand the problem is the funders like their anonymity…”

According to Robinson, accountability should not be taken for granted.

“I think that we’re allowing governments to fall into the hands of self-serving wealth. I don’t think this is democracy in action. I think this is commercialization of democracy. We’ve got to take responsibility for our democracy; we have to demand accountability."

-Cameron Stewart

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