By THE MICHIGAN CAMPAIGN FINANCE NETWORK
LANSING (April 30, 2019) — The 2018 election, which was the most expensive in state history, is over. But the fundraising rolls on.
The 150 most active political action committees (PACs) in the state reported raising more money over the first months of 2019 than they did over the same period two years ago, according to new disclosures.
Last week, PACs that spend money on state-level races in Michigan turned in their first campaign finance reports ahead of the 2020 election. The disclosures covered fundraising from Jan. 1, 2019, through April 20, 2019.
Over the 109-day period, the 150 top PACs in Michigan reported raising a combined total of $8.1 million. Over the same time period before the 2018 election, the 150 top PACs raised just $6.8 million. Michigan’s four caucus committees were the primary forces behind the fundraising jump.
The committees raise money on behalf of the House Democrats, House Republicans, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans. They use the money to boost candidates in the most competitive legislative races across the state.
From Jan. 1, 2019, through, April 20, 2019, the four caucus committees combined to raise $3.22 million, a record for the first fundraising period of a two-year election cycle. From Jan. 1, 2017, through April 20, 2017, the four committees combined to raise $2.10 million.
The House Republican Campaign Committee raised the most money of the four committees, collecting $1.13 million from Jan. 1, 2019 through April 20, 2019. The House Democratic Fund, which raised $658,778, reported more individual contributions than the Republicans did. The House Democratic Fund reported 580 individual contributions while the House Republican Campaign Committee reported 151 individual contributions.
All 110 seats in the House will be up for election in 2020. Republicans currently hold a slim majority of 58 seats.
Senate seats usually wouldn't be up for election until 2022. However, a pending legal fight over how Michigan’s legislative districts were drawn could change that.
The Senate Republican Campaign Committee reporting raising $1.11 million over the first months of 2019. The Senate Democratic Fund reported raising $313,965.
The contribution limits for caucus committees increased in 2019, and some contributions have already come in above the old limits.
In 2013, lawmakers voted to double all of the state’s contribution limits and connect them to inflation. Immediately after the change, donors could give $40,000 per year to a caucus committee instead of $20,000 per year. In 2019, the limit moved from $40,000 to $41,975.
The House Republican Campaign Committee received seven individual contributions of $41,975 in the first months of 2019. The committee’s top donors for the reporting period: Ron and Eileen Weiser of Ann Arbor each gave $41,975; Nancy and John Kennedy of the company Autocam each gave $41,975; J.C. Huizenga, an executive with the Huizenga Group, gave $41,975; Matthew T. Moroun, manager of the Liberty Bell Agency, gave $41,975; and C. Michael Kojaian, an investor with Kojaian Management Corp., gave $41,975.
The Senate Republican Campaign Committee’s top donors: Weiser gave $40,000; Nancy and John Kennedy each gave $40,000; Sen. Mike Shirkey’s Compete Michigan PAC gave $40,000; Shirkey’s campaign committee gave $40,000; Sen. Peter MacGregor’s MAC PAC gave $40,000; and Huizenga gave $40,000.
The House Democratic Fund’s top donors: Ted Snowdon of Ted Snowdon Productions gave $40,000; the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee gave $40,000; Rep. Chris Greig’s Strengthening Michigan Fund gave $30,000; Rep. Laurie Pohutsky’s candidate committee gave $25,000; and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters PAC gave $21,000. The House Democrats also received $153,085 in ad-placement refunds from the 2018 election.
The Senate Democratic Fund’s top donors: The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee gave $40,000; Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters PAC gave $20,000; Sen. Mallory McMorrow’s campaign committee gave $20,000; and Sen. Jim Ananich’s Ananich Senate Majority Fund gave $20,000.
The PAC connected to an interest group that reported raising the most from Jan. 1, 2019, through April 20, 2019, was Blue Cross Blue Shield’s PAC. It raised $202,034.
After the Blue Cross Blue Shield PAC were the Realtors PAC ($200,111), the Michigan Credit Union League Action Fund ($183,746), the Comcast Corporation and NBC Universal PAC ($164,692) and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters PAC at $153,511.
Of the 150 top PACs, 26 were leadership PACs connected to public officeholders.
The leadership PACs that attracted the most money were Sen. Roger Victory's Victory Values Fund at $108,840, Shirkey’s Compete Michigan at $101,250, Rep. Lee Chatfield’s Chatfield Majority Fund at $89,750, Chatfield’s Chatfield Majority Fund 2 at $56,000 and Sen. Jim Ananich’s Ananich Senate Majority Fund at $40,250.