Great Recession hits Michigan money-in-politics sector

PACs accumulating funds at slowest pace since ‘03

revised 8/7/2009

LANSING -- It appears that the Great Recession has finally reached the money-in-politics sector of Michigan’s economy. Michigan’s top political action committees (PACs) are accumulating funds at their slowest pace since 2003, according to data compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from reports filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections.

Through July 20th, the state’s top 150 PACs have raised $8.9 million. That total is down by seven percent compared to July 2005 or July 2007, when the top 150 PACs had already raised $9.5 million. The top 150 PACs had raised $7.7 million by July of 2003.

The House Democratic Fund leads this year’s fundraising list so far with $696,905, which is down by 22 percent compared to the same point last election cycle. The Senate Republican Campaign Committee is second on the list with $492,903, down by 40 percent.

Blue Cross / Blue Shield of Michigan is third on this July’s list of PACs at $333,139. That figure is up by 24 percent compared to last cycle, when the Blues first reached the million-dollar plateau in PAC resources for a complete election cycle. The Blues are working toward an overhaul of the state’s individual health insurance market and, no doubt, have keen interest in Speaker of the House Andy Dillon’s proposal to implement a unified health plan for all State public employees. Michigan Health and Hospital Association’s Health PAC is fourth at $312,376.

Meijer PAC is higher on this year’s PAC list than at any time in the past, ranking fifth with $306,858. Frederik Meijer is the top individual PAC-man so far this cycle, having contributed $300,000 to Meijer PAC.

Speaker Andy Dillon has the top officeholder’s leadership PAC, with $232,870. He is followed by: Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop - $167,739; Lieutenant Governor John Cherry’s Genesee Fund - $104,570; Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano - $91,050; and Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco, - $90,805. Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Leadership Fund is down by 77 percent compared to last cycle, at $61,163.

“The totals are off a little compared to the past,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, “But money still matters in the world of public policy. It’s clear that the Blues are ready to play offense and the Beer and Wine Wholesalers are ready to play defense. As far as the public interest goes, I’m not sure where that is represented on this list.”

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