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campaign finance

HTTP://WWW.SENATORJIMMARLEAU.COM/

It is against the law in Michigan for anyone who holds political office to use campaign funds to pay personal expenses.

That said, it can be challenging to figure out if this is happening when elected officials use campaign money to pay off credit card balances, and then skimp on the details.

Such is the case with Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion, as outlined in a front-page story by Detroit Free Press reporter Paul Egan.

http://www.senatorjimmarleau.com/

A state lawmaker could be in trouble for failing to explain thousands of dollars in expenditures by his campaign committee.

The Detroit Free Press reports that state Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion, used his campaign fund to pay $114,000 on his personal credit card. Filings by his campaign committee often did not provide details on what the cards were used for.

hundred dollar bills
Pictures of Money / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Gov. Rick Snyder this week signed off on legislation that expands campaign donation limits for certain types of donors. Moreover, the "Citizens United" bills let politicians solicit money on behalf of political action committees. This Week in Review, Michigan Radio Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry try and read between the lines.

PICTURES OF MONEY / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

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.

Money
Andy / Flickr

Republicans in Lansing worked at a breakneck speed Tuesday to pass legislation that would allow politicians in Michigan to solicit campaign contributions on behalf of political action committees.

 

The bills had their first House committee hearing Tuesday morning and were headed to the governor’s desk by the end of the day. They’d passed in the Senate late last week.

 

The state Capitol in Lansing.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

I’ve been talking to legislators and congressmen for a long time, and know something about lawmakers in the past as well. There are some ways in which I think today’s lot are generally better. For example, they are better educated and drink less. More of them are women, and I think there are far fewer on the take.

But there’s also something very wrong with our legislature today, something that often makes me think we would be better off with the old boozing and occasionally brawling pols, some of whom were still around when I was a young reporter.

picture of Michigan legislative chambers
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 


The Michigan Senate yesterday passed legislation that could vastly increase corporate and special interest spending on campaigns.

Vicki Barnett, a former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, and Joe Haveman, a former chair of the Michigan House Appropriations Committee and a current candidate for state Senate joined Stateside on Friday to discuss.

hand with money
Pictures of Money / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It’s been seven years since the U.S. Supreme Court said corporations and labor unions can spend as much money as they want on political campaigns.

The court left it up to states to decide whether it institute their own limits. And today the Michigan Senate officially said, “No thanks.”

It passed legislation that would basically codify what the court said in its controversial Citizens United opinion.

rolls of cash
Flickr user Pictures of Money / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

  

According to new campaign finance disclosures, Quicken Loans spent more on lobbying state government in the first seven months of 2017 than it had spent in previous years.

kid rock holding hot dog and vernors can
kidrock.com

The advocacy group Common Cause has filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice against Robert Ritchie, better known as Kid Rock, alleging the singer promoted himself as a candidate without filing the proper paperwork.

Federal election law requires candidates for office to register their candidacy, comply with campaign contribution restrictions, and disclose contributions publicly. Ritchie launched a campaign website and began selling "Kid Rock for Senate" merchandise in July, but has been coy about officially announcing his candidacy. 

Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan’s lobbyists have given $3.7 million to politicians at the state level since 2012.

That’s the total calculated by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Craig Mauger is its executive director. He says most of the money was given after an elected official took office, not during the campaign. And the highest amounts went to the people in the most powerful positions.

"These lobbyists are representing interests," Mauger says. "They are, in some cases, employees of a business. And they want to see it succeed just like the CEO wants to see it succeed.

Craig Mauger

This story was produced as a collaboration between Michigan Radio and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Graphics by Kaye LaFond. 

Michigan lawmakers who will decide whether to hand health insurance plans a major victory this spring have received about $1 million in contributions from committees and executives connected to the plans.

Money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A campaign committee controlled by Republican leaders is facing fines and questions over how it lost track of many thousands of dollars during the last election.

A photograph of the Michigan Capitol building
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio file photo

2016 may well go down as the Year of the Lobbyist in Michigan.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN) dug into the numbers and discovered spending on lobbying was higher in 2016 than any other year: lobbyists spent $39.99 million last year, which broke 2015's record  of $38.7 million.  

Capitol Building in Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There isn't much we in America can agree on these days.

However, some might say we are pretty well united on one thing: Most of us think the Citizens United ruling stinks and needs to go.

FLICKR USER 401(K) 2012 / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Over the last few weeks, Michigan all of a sudden became a battleground state.

Both candidates and their surrogates barnstormed across Michigan to rally supporters and get out the vote.

Money
Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / Creative Commons

The amount of money candidates in Michigan can get from special interest groups could get cut in half. That’s if a proposed bill finds its way through the legislature.

Currently these groups are allowed to donate ten times the amount of money an individual can. If the bill sponsored by State Representative Martin Howrylak  is passed, the donation limit would be reduced to five times the amount individuals can donate.

Craig Mauger is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a nonpartisan organization.     

A protestor calls for campaign finance reform during the 2011 Occupy Boston movement
flicker user Massachusetts Cop Block / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As you watch the political conventions and decide which candidates will get your vote, here's something you'll want to think about: Who helped to pay for all of that campaigning? And what happens when that newly elected or re-elected member of Congress gets back to Washington?

According to the group Issue One, members of Congress spend more than half of their time raising money, not governing.

And in 2010, just .26% of the population accounted for over two-thirds of contributions to congressional campaigns.

How can we fix America's campaign finance system?

The Michigan state capitol building
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A federal judge says a Michigan law that takes aim at political fundraising by unions violates the constitution.

The law says unions cannot use payroll deductions to collect donations to a union political action committee. The law still allows businesses to use payroll deductions for donations to corporate political committees.

  

Andrew Nickelhoff is a union attorney. He says that goes against the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Lindsey Scullen/Michigan Radio

One Well Brewing in Kalamazoo opened its doors Tuesday night for Michigan Radio’s latest rendition of Issues & Ale, our community conversation event series.

For the second time this summer, Michigan Radio and the Center for Michigan met up with listeners to discuss why trust in government is eroding in our state – and how that trust might be restored.

Jodi Westrick/Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, we sipped Brewery Becker’s “historic” ales and lagers while discussing a similarly historic topic: public trust in state government.

The Flint water crisis, gerrymandering, term limits, campaign money and more were on the minds of audience members and panelists at our Issues & Ale event.

hand with money
Pictures of Money / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Washington D.C. group has filed a complaint against a Michigan non-profit for its political spending.

Citizens for Responsible Ethics, or CREW, filed a complaint with the IRS against Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility. 

Jordan Libowitz is with CREW. He says Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility failed to report  $290,000 in political spending in 2014.  He says that violates the group's non-profit status.

"So we're seeing a disturbing trend with more and more groups trying to get away with this because they think they can," Libowitz says.

rolls of cash
Flickr user Pictures of Money / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A non-profit watchdog group says the person who signed a new law doubling campaign contributions was the one who ended up benefiting the most.

In December, 2013, Governor Rick Snyder signed a law that doubles the amount an individual can donate to a statewide election from $3,400 to $6,800.  The law also doubles the amount a political action committee can donate from $34,000 to $68,000.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack explained some controversial bills on their way to Governor Rick Snyder's desk, how Flint wants to start shutting off water to people who haven't paid their bills, and how Michigan may still lose congressional seats despite a slight rise in population. 


These 14 states were in the bottom of the rankings. Michigan was ranked the worst.
Center for Public Integrity

Fiftieth out of fifty states.

That's where Michigan ranks in a report released today by the Center for Public Integrity.

The last time we wrote about this, Michigan ranked 43rd out of 50. 

rolls of cash
Flickr user Pictures of Money / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Candidates often publicize the amount of money they have raised by including it in press releases or newsletters. But with campaign financing often criticized for it's ability to sway candidates based on who is funding them, why would candidates willingly draw attention to how much they have received?

Joe DiSano of DiSano Strategies in Lansing says these numbers are targeted at potential donors and their opponents, not ordinary voters.

Energy drink founder pours money into politics

Mar 26, 2015
Mike Mozart / Creative Commons

Manoj Bhargava isn't a household name, but a report from the Center for Public Integrity says the Michigan-based billionaire’s campaign contributions rival the Koch Brothers'.

Bhargava is the founder of 5-hour Energy drinks.  Since 2009, he’s made about $5.3 million in state and national campaign contributions through his Michigan-based companies.

picture of Michigan legislative chambers
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Legislation that would make changes to Michigan’s regulations on non-profit organizations is stirring controversy at the state Capitol.

Bills cleared a state House panel Wednesday that Democrats say they would make it easier for political organizations to hide information about their donors.

My guess is that Jerry Cannon is pretty upset today, and so are Pam Byrnes, Eric Schertzing and Bobby McKenzie.

They are all Democratic candidates for Congress in Michigan. They’ve been working their tails off for months trying to make some headway, three of them against Republican incumbents.

Cannon, a Vietnam veteran and former Kalkaska sheriff, was heavily recruited for the race by Lon Johnson, the new Democratic state chair. McKenzie, an anti-terrorism expert, and gave up a good job with the state department to come back and run.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s a lot of money being spent to elect Michigan’s Supreme Court justices.

The eight candidates running for three open slots on the Michigan Supreme Court have spent nearly $700,000 on TV ad buys as of this week.  

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