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citizens united

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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.

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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. “If the Legislature doesn’t allow unions to have the...

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s only three weeks until Michigan’s presidential primaries. Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have spent time this month campaigning in Michigan. Republican John Kasich is campaigning in the state too. Republicans and Democratic candidates will hold debates in Michigan next month. But Republican and Democratic candidates, as well as third party groups like political action committees, are not rushing to buy up ad time on Michigan TV stations. Craig Mauger is the executive...

This week, the Michigan House of Representatives is expected to take up a bill already passed by the Senate ( SB 638 ) which has often been referred to as an attempt to enshrine the U.S. Supreme Court decision usually known as Citizens United into state law. That’s a reference, of course, to the famous and controversial U.S. Supreme Court case, Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission.

Today is the 110th birthday of one of my greatest heroes: George Orwell, who spent his too-short life fighting for fairness, honesty and democracy. Orwell has been dead since 1950, and today, when we use the adjective Orwellian to describe something, we usually don’t mean something good. We mean something dark, sinister and hypocritical, something that reminds us of his book 1984 . Well, there’s no doubt that we have something of an Orwellian campaign finance system in this state, and today one of my living heroes, Rich Robinson, is releasing a new report showing in frightening detail just how much money dominates politics. His survey, Descending Into Dark Money , shows that we don’t know where the vast majority of campaign spending comes from. And the system is designed to prevent us from finding out.

(courtesy of True Creek)

One analyst expects Michigan will be awash in political advertising from special interest groups in 2012. A 2010 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court largely took the restrictions off special interest political advertising. Rich Robinson is the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network . He says liberal and conservative groups spent twice as much as the major parties in a pair of Michigan Congressional races in 2010. Robinson expects that trend will continue in 2012. It could...

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow involving Meijer officials who may have violated state campaign finance law. The company financed a public relations campaign to kick out village trustees who opposed Meijer’s plans to build a new store in their community. The move may have violated Michigan’s campaign finance law, which bars corporations and their agents from making campaign contributions. The Grand Traverse Eagle has done a great job covering the case. Alan Schneider is Grand Traverse County Prosecutor. He’s wanted to pursue an investigation against the Meijer officials. But attorneys for the Meijer officials involved say only the Secretary of State’s office has the authority to prosecute campaign finance cases. Alan Schneider says the Michigan Supreme Court must decide who’s right. “If there’s a crime, that’s a state crime, we are obligated to prosecute.” The whole issue could be moot. Last year, the US Supreme Court struck down federal laws barring corporations from making political contributions. Meanwhile, Meijer has paid millions of dollars in settlements to the state and the targeted village trustees.