Legislators raised $6 million in 2009

Citizens wait a year for fundraising accountability

Incumbent Michigan legislators reported raising just less than $6 million for their various candidate committees in annual campaign finance reports that were due on February 1st. For incumbent representatives, those reports were the first filed since their 2008 post-general election reports, which closed books on November 24, 2008. For incumbent senators, the reports covered the last calendar year.

Incumbent representatives raised $2,621,369 for their House campaign committees, and another $1,280,518 for new committees for higher offices, mostly State Senate. When transfers from the House accounts are subtracted from the totals for new committees, net fundraising by incumbent representatives totaled $3,587,946 for the year.

Incumbent senators raised $1,727,551 since their last reports and have now raised $4,329,326 for their Senate campaign accounts since they last faced they electorate in 2006. Of the 38 senators, 29 are term-limited and cannot run again for their Senate seat. Including fundraising for new committees for higher offices, the 38 incumbents have raised a net of $2,391,774 over calendar year 2010.

Non-incumbent candidates for the Michigan House reported raising $1,267,991 in their year-end reports. Notably, those committees also reported $573,356 in debt, mainly an indication of the degree of self-funding by the candidates.

Non-incumbent Senate candidates, including 32 current or former representatives, reported raising $3,225,959 in their annual reports. Their committees, too, are burdened by debt equal to nearly half the amount the candidates have raised: $1,592,304.

“Two things jump out of these reports,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “First, a year is too long to go between fundraising reports by incumbent officeholders. Our legislators raised $6 million last year, and we shouldn’t have to wait a year to know it.”

“Secondly, when you look at the level of debt in the new campaign committees of aspiring candidates, and recognize that those figures are a reflection of self-funding, you have to wonder whether running for office is being priced out of the reach of persons of ordinary means.”

Fundraising totals shown in the accompanying tables show only those who have reported raising money. Candidates who have filing waivers, non-incumbent candidates who had organized committees in 2009 but failed to file their annual report, and candidates who did not file a statement of organization until 2010 are not listed.

Candidates’ next campaign finance reports are due July 23rd.

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