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Watchdog: New campaign finance law makes it harder to trace political donations

Sep 20, 2017

Republicans in Lansing hit the gas pedal to pass legislation that could greatly increase corporate and special interest spending on political campaigns. The legislation sailed through the Senate last week and cleared the House Tuesday.

Today, Governor Snyder signed that legislation into law.

The law “allows candidates to work very closely with these supposedly independent groups,” said Craig Mauger, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

That may not appear to be a problem, since Michigan law limits the amount individual donors can give and prevents candidates from taking money directly from corporations. But if a candidate works closely with a Super PAC, which can raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations and corporate entities, they can effectively skirt these rules by treating the Super PAC as a functional extension of their own campaign.

Not to mention, Super PACs “can take money from murky corporations and other groups that maybe can conceal the identity of the true donor,” Mauger said.

Currently, the secretary of state interprets campaign finance rules.

For Mauger, the upshot is clear: more money in politics, and more power to lawmakers who are adept at fundraising.

“If you’re the Senate majority leader or the House Speaker and everyone wants to give you money because you’re basically running the agenda of the chamber, you’re going to have more power because now you can work closely with a Super PAC and feel that you’re safe doing that because of this law.”

Listen above for the full conversation with Michigan Campaign Finance Network executive director Craig Mauger.

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