Top Michigan PACs raised $41.4 million in 2008 cycle

Money-in-politics sector remains strong in state recession

revised 11:30a, 2/4/09

LANSING – Michigan’s top 150 political action committees (PACs) raised $41.4 million during the 2007-2008 election cycle according to reports filed with the Department of State’s Bureau of Elections and compiled by the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

That figure is down by 20.3 percent compared to the $51.9 million raised by the top 150 PACs in the 2005-2006 cycle. However, it is up by 23.9 percent compared to the last presidential cycle in 2003-2004. Michigan has a shorter state ballot in presidential years with no elections for the state senate or the constitutional executive offices of governor, attorney general and secretary of state.

For the second consecutive cycle the Coalition for Progress was the state’s biggest PAC at $4,208,610. Jon Stryker of Kalamazoo contributed $3,834,300 to the PAC, 91 percent of its total. Coalition for Progress made independent expenditures supporting Democrats in twelve competitive state House races.

The House caucuses’ PACs were next on the list: House Democratic Fund at $3,151,312 and House Republican Campaign Committee at $2,469,112. Both of those totals include commercial loans. The House Democrats borrowed $400,000 and carry $300,000 in debt into the new cycle. The House Republicans borrowed $500,000 and carry forward $450,000 in debt.

While most interest groups’ PACs were down compared to the 2006 cycle, the state’s most prominent political leaders made strong showings with their leadership PACs. Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Leadership Fund raised $1,168,031. Speaker Andy Dillon’s Leadership Fund raised $833,476. Senator Mike Bishop’s Majority Fund raised $500,704. Attorney General Mike Cox’s 5200 Club doubled its take at $330,025.

The Blue Cross / Blue Shield PAC topped $1 million for the first time in 2008 at $1,055,212. The Blues were engaged in an unsuccessful session-long campaign to drive an overhaul of the market for individual health insurance policies.

Among other PACs showing notable movement this cycle was the Great Lakes Education Project. The PAC had a quiet cycle in 2006 that coincided with Dick Devos’s run for governor. GLEP more than doubled its resources this cycle at $451,000. Members of the DeVos family contributed $350,000 to the PAC.

Also notable was a major surge by the Michigan Equality PAC from $15,000 in the 2006 cycle to $374,985 in 2008. Jon Stryker lifted Michigan Equality with $369,000 in contributions, more than 98 percent of its total.

“While the state’s economy is in serious trouble, the money-in-politics sector remains robust,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “It’s a sure bet that the interest groups will be heard loudly and clearly when it comes time to write budgets, regulations and tax policy. Let’s hope that ordinary families aren’t forgotten in the process.”

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