Top PACs have raised $27.3M

Money as a proxy for power in politics

LANSING – Michigan’s top 150 political action committees have raised $27,347,768 so far this election cycle, according to reports filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections and compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

This year’s total is down by nine percent compared to the top 150 PACs in July 2006, which was a record-setting year for money in Michigan politics. This year’s fundraising may reflect the shorter state ballot compared to 2006, with no senate or statewide executives, and only one supreme court race to be contested.

Four PACs have already raised more than $1 million this cycle: House Democratic Fund ($1,955,805), Senate Republican Campaign Committee ($1,737,793), House Republican Campaign Committee ($1,468,551) and Jon Stryker’s Coalition for Progress ($1,179,685). Two days after books were closed for this report, Stryker gave an additional $895,000 to Coalition for Progress, so it has crossed the two-million-dollar threshold already, although that is not reflected in the current summary list.

Money is flowing to the top politicians’ leadership PACs. Governor Granholm’s Leadership Fund is up by 25.3 percent at $870,526; Speaker Andy Dillon’s Leadership Fund is up from $1,200 in 2006 to $689,000 in 2008; and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop’s Majority Fund has taken in $438,000, compared to $204,000 for his two leadership PACs at this point in 2006. Lieutenant Governor John Cherry’s Genesee Fund is down slightly at $238,925, and Wayne County Commission Chair Jewel Ware’s Diamond PAC is up nearly 200 percent at $152,925.

Fundraising results are mixed among the major interest groups: The Michigan Education Association PAC, the Realtors Association PAC, the UAW Voluntary PAC and the Michigan Association for Justice PAC are down compared to two-years ago. Meanwhile, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, the Beer & Wine Wholesalers, the Auto Dealers of Michigan, the Michigan Bankers Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Michigan Farm Bureau and Comcast are the leading groups showing strong increases.

“Fundraising for the PACs is just a little slower than last election cycle,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “But that can change very quickly. There are a number of individuals and interest groups in Michigan that have a demonstrated ability to bring a million dollars to the table in a hurry. It’s not legal to do that in the world of federal campaign finances, but those are the rules we live by.”

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