Top Michigan Donors to RGA, DGA

LANSING - Michigan voters have been exposed to a barrage of advertising about the gubernatorial candidates sponsored by the Republican Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association. Through the end of September the RGA had sponsored $6.3 million-worth of ads, and the DGA sponsored $7.6 million-worth. Both will continue saturation advertising until Election Day.

The latest reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service by the two 527 groups show that they are extremely large political committees. In the period from January 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014, the RGA has received $117,689,677 in contributions. The DGA has received $71,515,868.

Each organization has established a Michigan state political action committee. RGA Michigan PAC filed a statement of organization in December of last year and its February campaign finance report showed $4,681,646 in contributions, all dating to 2011. Only two contributions totaling $75,000 are attributed to Michiganders.

The DGA Michigan PAC was established in April 2013. Its reports show just three contribution totaling $62,500. None of its contributions is attributed to a Michigander.

The RGA's accounting is reminiscent of its $8 million 2010 Michigan state PAC, which claimed to be funded by out-of-staters, while the RGA purportedly sent Michigan donors' funds all across the country. That Michigan state PAC reportedly made a $3 million contribution to Rick Perry for Governor of Texas

The DGA state PAC is clearly inadequate as a vehicle for the organization's extensive Michigan ad campaign.

As in last election cycle, it is more informative to look at what has been contributed to the two parent organizations by Michiganders, than it is to look at their state PACs.

The RGA parent organization has collected $5,212,000 during 2013-2014 from Michigan corporations and residents who have contributed at least $10,000. The top donor has been ETC Capital, the Farmington Hills investment firm. It made a $2.5 million contribution in August, and it has given $2,781,652, overall.

Other top Michigan donors to the RGA include Alticor and the DeVos family, $260,000; Hewlett Packard (Pontiac), $215,900; Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, $175,000; and Robert Thompson, $150,000.

The Democratic Governors Association has taken in $1,655,000 from Michigan-based unions and corporations that have contributed at least $10,000.

The top Michigan-based donor to the DGA is the United Auto Workers, which gave $1 million during the third quarter of 2014.

Other leading Michigan contributors to the DGA include Service Employees International Union Michigan state council, $250,000; Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, $100,000; Ford Motor Company, $80,000; and Caidan Management, $70,000.

Ford, Caidan Management, Chrysler and Dow Chemical are among the corporations who were top Michigan contributors to both governors associations.

The Governor's Club, a 527 committee that is controlled by Gov. Rick Snyder, has raised $942,000 since it was established ten weeks after the governor took office. Its top contributors, DTE Energy and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, have given $100,000 each. There is a high degree of overlap between leading contributors to the Governor's Club and the top Michigan-based donors to the RGA.

"These committees are having a major impact on our gubernatorial election this year," said Rich Robinson of the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network. "It is important to keep track of the sources of their funds. That can go a long way toward understanding past and future policy choices."

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