Gub TV: $10.6M; Unaccountable: $3.9M

LANSING: -- Television advertising for Michigan’s gubernatorial primary election totals $10.6 million. Of that total, $3.9 million paid for candidate-focused “issue” advertising which is not reported in the state’s campaign finance disclosure system.

Data were collected by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from the public files of the state’s broadcasters and cable systems July 28th through July 30th.

Issue ads characterize the suitability or unsuitability of a candidate for office, but do not directly exhort a vote. Therefore, under the prevailing interpretation of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, they are not considered to be campaign expenditures and there is no requirement to report them. This also means there is not requirement to report who gave the ads’ sponsors the money to pay for them.

“As viewers watch political ads over the next five days, they should pay close attention to the disclaimers that identify the ads’ sponsors,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “Unless an ad says it is sponsored by a candidate’s committee, we will never know who paid for the ad.”

“The interest groups and individuals who pay for these ads are making a grand display of contempt for the voters’ right to transparent politics,” Robinson said, “and the good citizens of this state shouldn’t stand for it.”

“On Monday morning, Ron Weiser and Mark Brewer should gather the leaders of these groups for a press conference and demand that they give a full accounting of the sources who laid out $4 million. And if they won’t do it on Monday, when voters could still consider the information before they vote, they should do it on Wednesday. And whoever wins the Tuesday primaries should announce immediately what they plan to do to clean up our stealth campaigns.”

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