Updated 10/29/2014 to include Michigan for All and Progressive Kick superPACs
LANSING--Michigan's top 150 state political action committees (PACs) have raised $60.1 million since January 1, 2013. That total is up by 73 percent compared to the amount raised by the top 150 PACs in the same period last election cycle.
The record increase is mainly due to a greatly increased number of state superPACs. SuperPACs are free to aggregate funds from corporations, individuals and other political committees to make independent expenditures. They are not allowed to make contributions directly to candidate committees. There are 32 superPACs among the current list of Michigan's top 150 PACs.
The state's top fundraising PAC, the state PAC of the Republican Governors Association, has received contributions totaling almost $4.7 million. However, the RGA Michigan PAC has recently returned $4 million to its parent organization, which is a 527 committee. The parent organization's television advertisements supporting Gov. Snyder and opposing Mark Schauer will run to approximately $10 million this year.
The legislative caucuses' PACs rank highly among state PACs, with the Republicans holding the advantage in fundraising on both sides of the Capitol. House Republicans have raised $3.2 million, compared to $2.7 million for House Democrats. Senate Republicans have raised $2.6 million, compared to $1.1 million for Senate Democrats.
A familiar list of state interest groups rank highly on the fundraising list, including the UAW, $2.9 million; Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, $1.1 million; Michigan Association of Justice, $935,000; Michigan Education Association, $885,000; Michigan Association of Realtors, $786,000; Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, $766,000; Michigan Health and Hospital Association, $712,000; Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, $672,000; DTE Energy, $628,000; Comerica Bank, $560,000; Auto Dealers of Michigan, $531,000; and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, $497,000.
All of the fore-mentioned groups' PACs are allowed to contribute directly to candidates for office.
Leadership PACs reflect changing leadership in three of the legislative caucuses due to term limits.
Presumed Democratic Senate leader Jim Ananich has raised almost $345,000 in his two eponymously named leadership PACs. Presumed Republican leader Arlan Meekhof has nominally raised $688,000 in his two Moving Michigan Forward committees, although the fundraising total of Fund II includes a transfer of $181,000 from Fund I. Sen. Meekhof has a third leadership PAC, Arlan Meekhof State Senate, that has raised almost $32,000.
On the House side, the Democratic leader, Rep. Tim Greimel, has raised $340,000 in his eponymously named PAC. Of the two contenders to be Republican leader, Rep. Al Pscholka has raised almost $225,000 in his Pscholka Results PAC. Rep. Kevin Cotter has raised $130,000 in his Vision for Victory PAC.
The great difference in this year's PAC list is the recent activation of a number of state superPACs of national organizations, mainly unions. Mostly since July reports were filed, new Democratic oriented superPACs have included Michigan for All, $1.9 million; National Education Advocacy Fund, $1.1 million; NextGen Climate Action, $1 million; Service Employees International Union, $995,000; AFSCME, $927,000; Progressive Kick, $700,00; National Nurses Association, $668,000; Workers Voice, $615,000; American Federation of Teachers, $500,000; United Steelworkers, $498,000; Humane Society Legislative Fund, $488,000; Planned Parenthood, $430,000; International Operating Engineers, $300,000; Michigan Pipe Trades Association, $248,000; and United Food and Commercial Workers, $198,000.
Also notable on this year's list of top PACs are three single-candidate superPACs that left a large imprint on Detroit's 2013 mayoral campaign and this year's Wayne County executive race: Turnaround Detroit, $3.17 million, supporting Mike Duggan; Detroit Forward, $472,000, supporting Benny Napoleon; and Turn Around Wayne County, $340,000, supporting Warren Evans.