Posts tagged Press Release

DeVos Family Has Made At Least $82 Million In Political Contributions Since 1999, According To Campaign Finance Disclosures

While it’s impossible for the public to find out exactly how much money West Michigan’s DeVos family has spent on politics over the years, the number must fall somewhere above $82 million. As the U.S. Senate considers whether to confirm Betsy DeVos, former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, as U.S. education secretary, the Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN) attempted to track her family's extensive political giving over the years. read more

posted on 01/27/2017

In Michigan, The Jump From Lawmaker To Lobbyist Is Usually A Quick One

Unlike Michigan, more than 30 states already have “cooling-off” measures in place, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Facing term limits, 38 lawmakers departed the Michigan House at the end of 2016. If recent history is any indication, several will become lobbyists, and those who do will most likely make the jump within the next six months. read more

posted on 01/17/2017

Some Potential Candidates For Governor Are Sitting On Stockpiles Of Campaign Cash

Multiple political operatives said this week a candidate for Michigan governor in a competitive primary race in 2018 would likely need about $3 million dollars in funding to contend in the primary alone. Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, a Republican, and U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat — all potential candidates — are already on their way to that figure. And former Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, has officially begun her fundraising efforts. read more

posted on 01/06/2017

A Boom Truck, A Campaign Sign And A Question Of Corporate Influence

In the murky world of campaigns and corporate spending to influence politics, answers can be elusive. More than two years after a company's boom truck was used to fly a Michigan House candidate's sign above a busy stretch of road, there are still questions about why the effort wasn't disclosed as campaign spending. read more

posted on 01/04/2017

Snyder-Linked Nonprofit Raised $2.24 Million Last Year

A nonprofit organization linked to Gov. Rick Snyder raised $2.24 million from anonymous donors in 2015, its first year of existence, according to a new federal tax filing. That’s more than the NERD Fund, a previous nonprofit organization connected to Snyder’s administration, raised over the three years it was active. read more

posted on 11/23/2016

After More Than 15,000 TV Ads, Republicans’ State House Majority Holds

Democrats and Republicans combined to spend more than $4.4 million on broadcast TV ads aimed at swaying state House races this fall, according to ad-tracking data and disclosures available through Tuesday evening, Nov. 8. After all of that spending, Michigan Republicans held the 63-seat majority they won two years ago. read more

posted on 11/09/2016

GOP Michigan Supreme Court Nominees Have A $2.8-Million Money Advantage

For every $1 that’s gone to support the two Democratic nominees for the Michigan Supreme Court, the two Republican nominees have had about $34 in support. According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network’s analysis of fundraising records and broadcast TV data, the GOP nominees for the state’s high court have seen more than $2.9 million in support for their campaigns with just days remaining before Tuesday’s election. read more

posted on 11/03/2016

$43 Million: State PACs Remain On Record Fundraising Pace For A Presidential Cycle

The most active 150 political committees in Michigan have raised $43.19 million so far this cycle, a 24 percent increase over where the top 150 PACs were at the same point in the 2012 cycle. The total — $43.19 million — is the most the top 150 committees have raised through Oct. 20 in a two-year presidential cycle in the state’s history. read more

posted on 10/28/2016

Spending On TV Ads In State House Races Blows By The $1-Million Mark

Michigan House candidates and their supporters have now aired an estimated $1.37 million in broadcast TV ads this fall, according to an analysis of Kantar Media ad-tracking data and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filings. That total — $1.37 million — is across 11 State House districts and includes ads that have run in the general election campaign through Monday, Oct. 24. read more

posted on 10/26/2016

Big Money At Work In Race For County Public Works Commissioner

Their campaigns have already combined to bring in about $1 million — with more on the way. Each candidate has accused the other of unethical behavior. And both candidates have raised money from individuals tied to businesses they could help employ if elected. It's the race between an incumbent and a member of Congress to be county public works commissioner. Read more at the link below. read more

posted on 09/15/2016

TV Ad Watch: Donald Trump Aired About $654k In Ads In Michigan

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s early September TV ad blast in Michigan amounted to an estimated $654,962 in ads across the state. With the election just under two months away, he's not the only candidate hitting the airwaves. The campaign of a candidate in the 7th Congressional District has already spent $370,000 on broadcast TV ads, and more than $1 million in ad time has been ordered in the 1st District. Read more by following the link below. read more

posted on 09/14/2016

The 10 Michigan House Races Drawing The Most Campaign Cash So Far And Where It's Coming From

With the Nov. 8 election two months away, money is already flowing in the battle for control of the Michigan House. Two races have passed the $200,000 fundraising mark, and many more will in the next weeks. Among the big donors to Democrats have been the Operating Engineers and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters. For Republicans, the DeVos family and Rep. Tom Leonard's PAC have written large checks. Read more and view an interactive graphic at the link below. read more

posted on 09/07/2016

Attorney Says He's 'Proud' Of Giving $200,000 To A Super PAC That Tried To Unseat A County Sheriff

Genesee County voters got to see the power of a single big donor this summer. An attorney who says he wanted to “put his money where his mouth was” gave at least $200,000 to a Super PAC, funding a vicious campaign to try to unseat Genesee County’s long-time sheriff in the Democratic primary. The attorney is Glen Lenhoff, who’s practiced law in Genesee County for 35 years but currently lives in Oakland County. Read more about the Super PAC New Sheriff In Town at the link below. read more

posted on 08/31/2016

Paper Or Plastic? In The Debate Over Local Plastic Bag Laws, One Side Has Been A Far Bigger Campaign Donor

A bill that would limit local governments' ability to regulate plastic bags has set off a debate between business groups that have made some big campaign contributions over the years, including a few donations reported received on the date of a key committee hearing, and environmental groups that have made their own contributions, on a much smaller scale. Read our full story at the link below. read more

posted on 08/30/2016

Touting A 'Looming Energy Shortfall,' Utility-Connected Nonprofit Spent $7.4 Million Last Year

Without having to disclose its donors, a nonprofit organization that’s tried to influence state lawmakers’ debate over energy policy spent $7.4 million in 2015, according to its newest tax filing. The money paid for phone calls, mail campaigns and hundreds of television ads. The group is called Citizens for Michigan's Energy Future, which has connections to the state's largest electric utilities and has promoted bills that the utilities support. Read more by following the link below. read more

posted on 08/18/2016

PAC $ Rankings: Michigan's Top Interest Groups Raising More Cash Than They Did In Past Prez Election Years

Michigan’s most active political action committees (PACs) continue to set a record fundraising pace for a presidential election cycle. The bump in fundraising is being driven by major interest groups, like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, increasing their activity and by the two House caucuses raising more than in past years. Read more by following the links below. read more

posted on 08/16/2016

Early Numbers: The Top Fundraiser Won 70 Percent Of Contested Michigan House Primary Races

The candidate who had access to the most money won about 70 percent of the contested State House primary races last week according to campaign finance reports available as of Election Day, Aug. 2. But when primary races in which the winning nominee has little or no chance in the general election are dropped from consideration, the impact of fundraising becomes even more profound. Read our full story on candidate fundraising and election outcomes by following the link below. read more

posted on 08/12/2016

How Secret Donors Tried To Shape Michigan's Next House GOP Caucus

In the days before Tuesday's election, two groups attacked at least seven Republican candidates across five different House districts, potentially impacting one-fifth of the races for open seats currently held by the House GOP. The late attacks tended to focus on candidates who were the more conservative options in competitive races and who were already at a fundraising disadvantage. Read our story and see the attacks by following the links below. read more

posted on 08/05/2016

The Dark Money Flows In Days Before Michigan's Primary Election

Alleging that one candidate thinks gun violence is a game and that another's ideas would "handcuff" police officers, dark money-funded mailers have been trying to sway Michigan voters in the days leading up to Tuesday's primary election. The attacks have come from nonprofit organizations, and some have falsely stated they were sent by previously dissolved PACs. And Michigan law allows the donors behind the mailers to remain secret. Read more by following the link below. read more

posted on 08/01/2016

56 State House Candidates Say The Role Of Money In Politics Deserves The Legislature's Attention

There will be State House candidates on many ballots across Michigan Tuesday who want to strengthen transparency laws and who believe the Legislature should do something about the role of money in politics. That’s according to the responses to questionnaires the Michigan Campaign Finance Network sent out in May to 225 State House candidates. To read more about their responses, follow the links below. read more

posted on 07/29/2016

DeVos Family Has Made $1.4 Million In Political Contributions In 2 Months Before Aug. 2 Primary

Voters across Michigan will head to the polls on Tuesday, Aug. 2, to determine which candidates will be on general election ballots in November. Voters will choose nominees for seats in the Michigan House and in the U.S. Congress. They'll also weigh in on races for local offices. There’s a lot at stake and a lot of money attempting to influence outcomes. MCFN will post stories in the days leading up to the primary following the money that can be traced and also the money that can’t be. Read our primary election coverage at the links below: read more

posted on 07/28/2016

The 16 House Races Drawing The Most Cash In 2016 And Where It's Coming From

A Northern Michigan doctor dipping into his own wallet, a Detroit incumbent trying to fend off primary challengers and an ex-lobbyist running in Jackson are drawing big dollars into three of the most expensive House races so far in 2016. Campaign finance reports for House candidates were due on Friday — days before the Aug. 2 primary election. The reports, the first disclosing dollars given to the candidates in 2016, covered fundraising between Jan. 1 and July 17. Read our coverage by following the links below. read more

posted on 07/25/2016

Biggest Game In Town: How More Than 100 Lobbyists Have Tried To Sway The State's Energy Overhaul

The ongoing debate over the future of energy in Michigan and who should pay for it has supercharged interest groups and the lobbyists they employ in Lansing. At least 145 registered lobbyists have either submitted official position statements to the Legislature’s two energy committees about pending energy reforms or are registered as working for the key players in the proposals. As one person watching the debate play out said of the large crop of interested parties, "Everyone gets an electric bill." Read our story by following the link below. read more

posted on 07/20/2016

Congressional Candidates Opened Their Own Wallets $1-Million Wide For Their Campaigns Last Quarter

Michigan candidates for Congress dug deep into their own pockets in the last months to support their campaigns, according to new disclosures that were due on Friday. Combined, Republicans running in contested primaries in the 1st and 10th districts loaned or gave their campaigns more than $1 million from April 1 through June 30. But no one has helped himself more than Republican Paul Mitchell who’s running in the open 10th District. Read more by following the links below. read more

posted on 07/18/2016

New Tool For Tracking The Flow Of Money To Lawmakers Debuts

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network has added a new digital tool to help members of the public trace donations to elected officeholders serving in Lansing. The donor-tracking tool provides ranked lists of top contributors to state lawmakers, their caucuses, the governor, the attorney general and the secretary of state. The tool covers donations across a variety of fundraising methods. Read more by following the links below. read more

posted on 07/07/2016

National Group Files Complaint Against Dark Money Michigan Nonprofit

In a new complaint, a national ethics group says a Michigan nonprofit appears to have made false statements to the Internal Revenue Service about its political spending. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, D.C., filed a complaint today with the IRS that says the Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility made contributions to political action committees but told the IRS the group hadn’t engaged in “direct or indirect political campaign activities on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office.” read more

posted on 06/15/2016

With Questionable Results, Ballot Campaigns Have Spent $3.5 Million

While it appears increasingly unlikely that any group will be able to gather enough petition signatures to put a proposal before Michigan voters in November, those who tried raised some $6.4 million and spent more than $3.5 million. The spending has been a boon for election attorneys, campaign consultants, polling companies and, most emphatically, petition circulators. Read our full piece by following the link below. read more

posted on 06/09/2016

Former Lawmaker Urges AG, SOS To Review State Of The City Event That Doubled As PAC Fundraiser

A former state lawmaker has formally requested that the Attorney General’s Office and Secretary of State’s Office investigate a State of the City luncheon that entangled public resources while doubling as a fundraiser for a PAC. In a letter to Attorney General Bill Schuette, former Rep. Leon Drolet alleges that Warren Mayor James Fouts’ 2016 State of the City address was “a blatant, open and obvious use of taxpayer resources” that helped a PAC raise money. Read more by following the links below. read more

posted on 06/08/2016

One Michigan Congressional Candidate Has Already Spent $94k On TV Ads

With two months before Michigan's August primary, Paul Mitchell, the Republican who’s investing heavily in his own U.S. House campaign, ran an estimated $94,332 in broadcast TV ads in the last two weeks of May. The ads mark the first of Michigan’s 2016 congressional races, according to tracking data from Kantar Media, which monitors ads. Mitchell’s campaign ran about 50 broadcast ads in the Detroit TV market last month, according to Kantar’s numbers. And according to federal filings, the campaign has already ordered more ad time for June. Read more by following the link below. read more

posted on 06/02/2016

Michigan's Biggest PACs Set Record Pace For Presidential Election Year

The interest groups and caucus committees that will help finance the fight for control of the Michigan House in 2016 are on a record fundraising pace for a presidential election year. It’s an indication that the 2016 State House campaigns could rank among the most expensive in Michigan’s history. At the end of the last reporting period, which closed on April 20, the top 150 Michigan political action committees (PACs) had raised $26.0 million. The number is a 17 percent increase over the same point in the 2012 cycle. read more

posted on 05/27/2016

Group Of Lawmakers Says Special Interests Have Too Much Influence, Proposes Limiting PAC Giving

As political action committees (PACs) continue to break fundraising records in Michigan, a bipartisan group of House members is hoping to decrease their influence. A bill, introduced earlier this month, would cut in half the maximum amount PACs can give state candidates. Currently, Michigan law allows PACs to give 10 times the maximum amount individuals can give. House Bill 5632, sponsored by Rep. Martin Howrylak (R-Troy), would reduce that multiplier to five. Read the full story by following the link below. read more

posted on 05/26/2016

A State Of The City Address That Entangles Public Resources, Fundraising And An Endorsement

One mayor's 2016 State of the City address is still drawing attention a month later, and it's not because of the policies he rolled out during the speech. The event raised thousands of dollars for a political action committee (PAC) while seeming to entangle public resources in the process. And although the event raised money for a PAC, city workers helped put together a video presentation that went with the speech, and, according to emails, the mayor's office directed one individual on how to get tickets. read more

posted on 05/20/2016

Big Donors Have Been Big Players In Fight Over Detroit Public Schools Turnaround

As Michigan’s largest school district faces a financial crisis, some of the state’s wealthiest campaign donors are entrenched in the fight over how to resolve it. Through press releases, lobbyists, well-timed personal phone calls and perhaps even a slice of pizza, major campaign donors and groups connected to them are working to influence the future of education in Detroit. Read our coverage by following the links below. read more

posted on 05/12/2016

Michigan House Member Aims To Boost Timeliness Of Lobbyist Reports

Lobbyists who shelled out record amounts in Michigan last year would have to release reports on their spending more frequently under a new proposal from a Republican State House member. Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Midland) says his new bill, HB 5535, would increase transparency and would improve the timeliness of reports on lobbyists’ efforts to influence state lawmakers. Read more about the bill by following the link below. read more

posted on 05/09/2016

See Who's Been Funding Key Lawmakers' Political Operations So Far This Year

Key state lawmakers collected more than $615,000 from interest groups and individuals for their own Political Action Committees (PACs) over the first four months of 2016. It’s money they can now use to boost candidates they support in upcoming elections. Legislators in leadership positions — or those who aspire to leadership positions — often use personal PACs to channel large donations they can earn to others. To see a breakdown of who's been raising the most money and of who's been giving to the state's leading legislators, follow the links below. read more

posted on 05/04/2016

Collecting Dough: How State Lawmakers Mix Fundraising, Legislating; And Sometimes Do Both

In 2015, state lawmakers held hundreds of fundraisers with the majority of them taking place within walking distance of the Capitol on legislative session days. There were at least 315 fundraisers held by state officeholders in 2015 with 170 of them happening in Lansing on days when at least the House was expected to be in session. This is the story of those events and one particular fundraiser that occurred this week benefiting a senator who spent much of the event a block away in a committee hearing. Read the piece by following the link below. read more

posted on 04/28/2016

Who's Helping Fund Gov. Snyder's Response In Flint? The Answer Is Clouded

As Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration makes use of a nonprofit organization to help respond to the water crisis in Flint, it’s impossible to tell where much of the money funding the nonprofit is really coming from. Over the last year, the Moving Michigan Forward Fund, which discloses its donors and the amounts they give, has taken $525,000 — 83 percent of its total haul over that period — from other nonprofits tied to Snyder that haven't met that level of disclosure. Read our full piece on the fund by following the link below. read more

posted on 04/22/2016

Dark Money Hits Township Level As Nonprofit Goes On Attack In Plymouth

State Rep. Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth Twp.), who’s running for Plymouth Twp. supervisor this year, still remembers the moment he discovered the dark-money-funded website bearing his name: www.HigherCrimeHeise.com. Over the last eight months, efforts to attack Heise tied to a nonprofit group have led to Freedom of Information Act requests, legal costs for the public and political feuding in one Wayne County township. Read our full story by following the link below. read more

posted on 04/20/2016

5 Michigan Congressional Races Drew More Than $500,000 In The Last 3 Months

Candidates hoping to serve Michigan in the U.S. House next year drew a combined $4.5 million from Jan. 1 through March 31, according to newly released campaign finance disclosures. And five races across the state surpassed the $500,000 mark for the three-month period. According to the new disclosures, one GOP candidate loaned his own campaign $900,000, one sitting House member raised $300,000 from PACs, and one Democratic candidate got $58,350 from donors in California. For MCFN's complete look at the money flowing into our congressional races, follow the links below. read more

posted on 04/18/2016

If Money Talks, Support Loudest Among Cruz's Michigan Delegates

If money is any indication, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) appears to have the most sincere crop of Michigan delegates heading into the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. According to federal campaign finance disclosures, five of Cruz's 17 Michigan delegates have given directly to his campaign for president so far. Meanwhile, only one of Donald Trump's 25 Michigan delegates have given to his campaign, and only three of Ohio Gov. John Kasich's delegates have given to his campaign. Read more about contributions by the GOP delegates and by Democratic super delegates by following the link below. read more

posted on 04/14/2016

Michigan Donors Have Given More Than $5 Million To Super PACs Playing In Presidential Race So Far

Michigan has been the source of more than $5.2 million in contributions to Super PACs supporting or opposing presidential candidates, according to a new Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN) analysis. One weathy Michigan family and one businessman have accounted for about half of that $5.2 million total. And the $5.2 million is in addition to $6.4 million that Michigan residents have given directly to presidential candidates. Read our full story by following the links below. read more

posted on 03/28/2016

Many Lawmakers Have Taken Thousands In Campaign Cash From Those Seeking To Influence Detroit Education Plan

As state lawmakers look to reshape public education in Michigan’s largest city, many of them have taken major campaign contributions from groups and individuals who are now seeking to influence the overhaul. Those donors include the powerful DeVos family, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Michigan Education Association and the Great Lakes Education Project. MCFN has tracked six groups that have weighed in on education plans for Detroit and those groups' donations to lawmakers for 2014 and 2015. Read our coverage at the link below. read more

posted on 03/22/2016

Presidential Campaigns Aired More Than $10.6 Million In TV Ads In Michigan

Presidential candidates and Super PACs supporting them ran more than $10.6 million in broadcast TV ads in Michigan to try to sway voters ahead of the state's March 8 primary. With about 2.5 million voters participating in the primary, that total amounted to more than $4 per primary voter. It also easily surpassed the amount spent on TV ads for the 2012 presidential primary in Michigan, $6.4 million. The candidate who spent the most on TV ads was Democrat Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont. To read our full story, follow the link below. read more

posted on 03/16/2016

UPDATE: TV Ad Spending Has Surpassed $8M In Michigan, Buying Surged Last Week

Presidential candidates and their supporters dumped money into Michigan in the last days before the primary election, buying $6 million in ads in the state over the seven-day period from Feb. 29 through March 6, which was Sunday. That $6-million figure, which is based on Kantar Media ad tracking data, is nearly as much as the $6.4 million that was spent on ads for the entire 2012 presidential primary. This time around, as of March 6, with two days remaining, there had been more than $8 million spent. Read our full story by following the link below. read more

posted on 03/08/2016

How A Storefront In Grandville Connects To Big Money Flowing Into Presidential Race

Just off Sanford Avenue in the 15,000-person city of Grandville, Michigan, there’s a small business plaza featuring two lines of glass storefront windows. One of the storefronts sits at 2885 Sanford Ave. SW. It’s an address that keeps showing up in campaign finance reports this cycle. And it’s one that also illustrates just how difficult it can be to find out where the money flowing into the presidential race is coming from, even when the donations are disclosed to the federal government. Read our full story by following the link below. read more

posted on 03/07/2016

After Ad Missteps, Dark Money Group Agrees To Pay $17,696 Fine

Some 500 days after complaints were first filed, the Secretary of State’s Office has finally reached an agreement on the penalty for a dark money group that ran ads specifically touting two candidates "for Senate" in the fall of 2014. According to paperwork dated March 2, the Michigan Jobs and Labor Foundation agreed to a civil fine of $17,696. The agreement came Wednesday after the Michigan Campaign Finance Network and Detroit Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson highlighted the then yet-to-be-resolved complaints earlier in the week. Read more by following the links below. read more

posted on 03/03/2016

Update: Sanders, Clinton Have Combined For $2.2M In Ads

The amount presidential campaigns are spending on TV advertising in Michigan skyrocketed last week with Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton having now invested about $1 million each. The Democratic candidates had combined for $2.2 million in broadcast TV ads, as of Feb. 28, with nine days left before the March 8 primary. Republican candidates and the Super PACs supporting them had spent only $125,521. For more on the latest TV ad numbers, follow the links below. read more

posted on 03/02/2016

State Tells Dark Money Group That Violated Law To Pretend Super PAC Existed

In the fall of 2014, one of Michigan’s most active dark money groups slipped up and blatantly violated campaign finance law. What’s played out since raises questions about how our laws are being enforced, how long that process takes and how we can add transparency to the process. The nonprofit Michigan Jobs and Labor Foundation ran ads featuring two GOP Senate candidates that crossed the line between issue advocacy, which doesn't require donor disclosure, and express advocacy, which requires disclosure. The misstep led Democrats to file complaints with the Secretary of State's Office. So far, the office has told the nonprofit to file the necessary paperwork to form a Super PAC. But the office also says work on the complaints is ongoing, nearly a year and half after the 2014 election. Read more by following the links below. read more

posted on 03/01/2016

Early On, Sanders Is Outspending Clinton On Michigan TV Ads

As of Sunday, Democrat Bernie Sanders had run three times as many broadcast TV ads in Michigan markets as his opponent, Hillary Clinton, had. According to tracking by Kantar Media, Sanders’ campaign ran 676 ads across five Michigan markets as of Sunday while Clinton’s campaign had run 211 ads. Sanders’ campaign had spent $319,037 while Clinton’s campaign had spent $100,001. As of Sunday, the campaigns of Sanders and Clinton were the only ones running ads on broadcast TV stations in Michigan. For more, follow the links below. read more

posted on 02/24/2016

Michigan Donors To Super PACs Nearly Matched Michigan Donors To Candidates In January

A handful of Michigan donors to presidential Super PACs  gave nearly as much money in January as hundreds of Michigan donors who gave directly to the presidential candidates. According to campaign finance reports released over the weekend, donors who listed Michigan addresses gave about $638,500 to the candidate committees of eight presidential candidates, including Republican Jeb Bush, who has now suspended his campaign. But January saw almost equal financial support from Michigan donors who gave large contributions to Super PACs that are supporting the candidates. MCFN tracked $620,500 in contributions from five Michigan-based donors to the Super PACs. read more

posted on 02/22/2016

Spending On Lobbying Hit Record High In 2015

Lobbyists reported spending more money trying to sway Michigan lawmakers in 2015 than any year before. According to disclosure reports filed this month, lobbyists spent a grand total of $38.7 million in 2015. That’s a $1.7 million increase over 2014, and a $1.6 million increase over the previous annual record of $37.1 million from 2012. Not only is there more money trying to influence Michigan’s elected officials, there are more lobbyists as well. There were 2,998 lobbyists and lobbyist agents registered in Michigan in 2015, up from the previous record of 2,959 in 2012. To read more, follow the links below. read more

posted on 02/18/2016

Michigan Lawmakers Got More Free Lunches In 2015

Lobbyists reported treating state lawmakers and other public officials to $844,184 in food and drinks in 2015. That number, reported in the state’s food and beverage disclosure category, is a new high and more than twice the amount that was reported in 2001. According to disclosures filed this month, 11 lawmakers benefited from more than $2,000 in lobbyist-paid food and drinks in 2015, and 35 benefited from more than a $1,000 in lobbyist-purchased food and drinks. For perspective, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the per-capita amount spent on food for the U.S. for the entirety of 2014 was $4,576. For more, follow the links below. read more

posted on 02/17/2016

Gov. Snyder Went On Most Expensive Lobbyist-Paid Trip Of 2015

Gov. Rick Snyder received more in lobbyist-paid lodging and travel in 2015 than any other public official. And for Snyder, it all came in the form of a trip to California in early October. According to lobbying disclosure reports due this month, the Ford Motor Company paid $3,232 for travel and l... read more

posted on 02/15/2016

Presidential Ad Battle Poised To Hit Michigan Next Week

The presidential race’s TV advertising battle could begin unfolding on Michigan TV screens as early as next week. According to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filings, a Super Political Action Committee (Super PAC) that’s been backing Republican candidate Jeb Bush already has at least $741,585 in ad time reserved with Michigan broadcast stations running up to the March 8 primary. The ads were originally scheduled to begin on Feb. 15, which is Monday. However, multiple stations have filed revisions, showing that the ads airing with them have been pushed backed to Feb. 17, which is Wednesday. read more

posted on 02/12/2016

The $4-Million Push To Influence Michigan Energy Law

The push to influence Michigan’s energy overhaul likely soared beyond $4 million in 2015. The total includes an estimated $2.5 million in broadcast TV advertising by a single group, $823,444 in lobbying expenses and $667,245 in donations to campaigns tied to state officeholders. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and state lawmakers set out in 2015 to redesign state laws that regulate energy standards and competition among energy companies. While no proposals made it through the Legislature last year, the effort to influence the ultimate outcome was unrelenting. Read our full report by following the top link below. read more

posted on 02/11/2016

PACs Raised More Than $22 Million During 2015

Political action committees (PACs) that seek to influence lawmakers and sway Michigan voters raised more than $22.6 million in 2015 with $20.1 million of that total by the 150 most active committees. All of that fundraising came during an off-year. And while 2014 saw a gubernatorial race and State Senate races that won’t be on the ballot this year, 2015 PAC fundraising wasn’t far off the pace of 2013. In 2013, the top 150 PACs raised $22.2 million. So despite the fact that the upcoming election will focus mostly on the battle for the State House, the drop-off in 2015 was only about $2.1 million — or about 9 percent. read more

posted on 02/09/2016

Campaign Legal Center: Senate Super PAC Bill Goes 'Well Beyond' Citizens United

The Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit based in Washington, D.C, submitted an analysis this week of the Michigan Senate bill that would broaden the potential connection between candidates and Super PACs that receive take unlimited contributions. While the bill, Senate Bill 638, has been touted as a way to simply put the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in Michigan law, The Campaign Legal Center says it goes well beyond that, “allowing candidates to coordinate nearly every aspect of their supporters’ ‘independent’ expenditures.” Read the full analysis below. read more

posted on 02/04/2016

Ballot Proposal Update: Ann Arbor Man Has Given $250K To Campaign To Legalize Marijuana

An Ann Arbor resident has single-handedly provided $250,000 to a ballot campaign that aims to legalize marijuana in Michigan, according to new campaign finance reports. That Ann Arbor resident is Kevin McCaffery, 54, who’s listed as the president of RKB Enterprises Inc. In the last fundraising period, which covered Oct. 21 until Dec. 31, McCaffery gave $200,000 to the MI Legalize campaign, which would legalize all forms of marijuana for adults 21 and older. McCaffery previously gave another $50,000 to the effort. For more on MI Legalize's latest campaign finance report and those of other ballot committees, follow the link below. read more

posted on 02/04/2016

Term-Limited Schuette, Calley Were Top Fundraisers Among Candidates In Last Months Of 2015

Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley — two term-limited Republicans — raised more money in their candidate committees than other candidates for state office in the last months of 2015. Schuette reported raising $230,623 in the most recent reporting period while Calley reported raising $228,500. Those were the largest numbers posted for the period by any candidate committee, according to Secretary of State data. read more

posted on 02/03/2016

Max Donors Boosted Fight To Win State House By $920,000 In 2015

Boosted by 18 donors who combined to give $720,000, Michigan House Republicans brought in more campaign cash than the three other caucuses in 2015, according to year-end reports due to the state on Monday. The House Republican Campaign Committee raised $1.79 million in 2015. Of that total, $720,000 — or 40 percent — came from 18 donors who each gave the maximum yearly amount possible, $40,000. The House Democratic Fund had five maximum donors who gave a combined $200,000. read more

posted on 02/02/2016

Bush, Clinton Lead Competitors In Fundraising From Michigan

Michigan voters don’t head to the polls for the state’s presidential primary for another month. But already, donors from Michigan have chipped in more than $5 million to committees backing presidential candidates. That number represents $4.04 million given to presidential contenders’ candidate committees and another $999,275 given to super PACs (political action committees) supporting the candidates. When it comes to the candidate committees alone, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush raised the most in Michigan in 2015 at $985,067. Finishing in second was Dr. Ben Carson, a Detroit native, who raised $692,068. As for Democrats, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised the most money in Michigan at $640,070. read more

posted on 02/01/2016

Doubling Contribution Limits Added At Least $6.3M To Michigan Elections In '14

Michigan lawmakers’ decision to double contribution limits in advance of the 2014 election ballooned campaign coffers by at least $6.3 million in contributions that previously would have been prohibited. The Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN) analyzed thousands of contributions to candidates in the last election to determine how much money came in from donors above the state’s previous contribution caps. read more

posted on 01/29/2016

Citizens United v. FEC: Six Years Later

On Jan. 21, 2010, six years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that government cannot limit independent spending in our elections by corporations and labor groups. So in honor of the past six years, we're sharing six quotes from Justice John Paul Stevens' dissenting opinion. read more

posted on 01/21/2016

MCFN seeks executive director

The Board of Directors of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN) is seeking an individual for the position of Executive Director. The Network is a Lansing, Michigan based non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to achieving campaign finance reform in Michigan. Additional information... read more

posted on 11/09/2015

Legislators have raised $2.1M in eight months

LANSING - Michigan legislators have raised more than $2.1 million for their campaign accounts since November 25th, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections today. Thirty-five senators reported raising $661,017, an average of $18,886, while 107 representati... read more

posted on 07/27/2015

Dark Money and Justice: Michigan is like no other state.

Michigan has a record of dark money spending in elections for offices related to the administration of justice like no other state in the union. A new report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network shows the record, and examples of the dark money electioneering communications that are undermining public trust and confidence in the impartial administration of justice. read more

posted on 06/24/2015

Proponents of Proposal 1 have a wide financial advantage over opponents

LANSING - Proponents of Michigan's Proposal 1 of 2015 have a wide financial advantage over committees opposed to the proposal. Records filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections for contributions made through April 23 to the proponents' committee, Safe Roads Yes, show that the committee has raised ... read more

posted on 04/27/2015

Record $68M fundraising by top PACs in 2014 cycle

LANSING - Michigan's top 150 political action committees (PACs) collectively raised more than $68 million in the period from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2014, smashing the previous record of $51.9 million for a corresponding list of state PACs that had stood since the 2006 election cycle. ... read more

posted on 02/23/2015

State lobbyists' spending topped $37M in 2014

LANSING - Reported spending by Michigan lobbyists totaled $37,038,329 in 2014, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State that have been compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. That amount is up by 4.1 percent compared to reported lobbying expenditures from 2013, ... read more

posted on 02/17/2015

Constitutional executives' campaigns: $72.3M

LANSING - The 2014 campaigns for Michigan's constitutional executive officers exceeded $72 million according to reports filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections and advertising records compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from the public files of state broadcasters and cable systems.... read more

posted on 12/10/2014

Michigan's 2014 legislator campaigns: $44.3M

LANSING - Michigan's 2014 campaigns to select legislators were a $44.3 million affair according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State. Michigan Senate campaigns had almost $19 million, while Michigan House campaigns had $25.4 million. Michigan Senate Looking across the state, ... read more

posted on 12/10/2014

Michigan's 2014 Supreme Court Campaign: $10.4M

LANSING - Michigan's 2014 Supreme Court campaign topped $10 million, according to reports filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections and advertising records compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from the public files of state broadcasters and cable systems. In a pattern that has beco... read more

posted on 12/10/2014

Gubernatorial air war: $47.6 million

LANSING - Television advertising for Michigan's 2014 gubernatorial campaign ran to $47.6 million, gross sales. That total for TV spending in a Michigan gubernatorial campaign ranks second, all time, to the $54 million spent in the 2006 campaign between Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Dick DeVos. This ... read more

posted on 11/19/2014

Dark money dominated Supreme Court, AG TV campaigns

LANSING -- Unreported, unregulated "dark money" paid the majority of costs for television advertising in Michigan's 2014 supreme court and attorney general campaigns, according to records compiled by the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network. The Michigan Republican Party was the principa... read more

posted on 11/12/2014

PACs on record fundraising pace

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 l... read more

posted on 10/28/2014

State candidates' campaign finances - two weeks out

LANSING - Candidates for state offices in Michigan filed reports on Friday, October 24th that summarized their campaign finance activities for the period from August 26th through October 19th. Those were the final complete reports to be filed by the candidates prior to the November 4th election, alt... read more

posted on 10/26/2014

Supreme Court candidates on accountability for political advertising

Several members of the 2011-2012 Judicial Selection Task Force, including its co-chairs, retired Justice Marilyn Kelly and Senior Judge James L. Ryan, sent a single question to this year's candidates for Michigan Supreme Court: Do you support the recommendation of the nonpartisan Michigan Judicia... read more

posted on 10/20/2014

Michigan Congressional Candidates Have Raised $26.45M

LANSING - Michigan's candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives raised $6.1 million in the 3rd quarter of 2014 according to reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission yesterday. That brings the fundraising total for active candidates to $26.45 million for the election cycle, through S... read more

posted on 10/16/2014

Top Michigan Donors to RGA, DGA

LANSING - Michigan voters have been exposed to a barrage of advertising about the gubernatorial candidates sponsored by the Republican Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association. Through the end of September the RGA had sponsored $6.3 million-worth of ads, and the DGA sponsored $... read more

posted on 10/16/2014

$600K MI GOP Supreme Court Ad: Is it Dark Money?

The Michigan Republican Party has launched the television campaign for the 2014 Michigan Supreme Court election. The MI GOP ran a $500,000 flight of broadcast TV ads about its Supreme Court nominees in the Detroit, Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo and Flint/Saginaw media markets between October 1st and Octobe... read more

posted on 10/10/2014

MI Senate air war: $32.3 million - and counting

LANSING - The campaigns of Michigan's U.S. Senate candidates and their independent supporters had spent $32.3 million for television advertisements about the candidates through the end of September. That total represents gross sales. Records of the advertising were compiled by the Michigan Campai... read more

posted on 10/03/2014

Gubernatorial air war: $19.2M - and counting

LANSING - Spending for television advertising about Michigan's gubernatorial candidates has reached $19.2 million with five weeks to go before Election Day. That figure represents gross sales. The data were compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from the public files of state broadcast... read more

posted on 10/01/2014

Lobbying: Spending up, disclosure poor

LANSING - Reported spending by Michigan lobbyists totaled $20,574,448 in the first seven months of 2014 according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State that have been compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. That amount is up by 2.5 percent compared to the corresponding... read more

posted on 09/26/2014

AG, SoS, MSC incumbents hold campaign finance advantage over challengers

LANSING - Incumbents nominees for statewide office continue to hold a wide campaign finance advantage over their challengers for the November election, according to reports filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections. Candidates for attorney general, secretary of state, lieutenant governor and just... read more

posted on 09/23/2014

Legislative candidates have raised $22.9 million

LANSING - Candidates for the Michigan legislature have raised $22.9 million so far this election cycle: $12,386,054 by candidates for the Michigan House and $10,556,850 by Michigan Senate candidates. Those figures were compiled by the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network from post-primar... read more

posted on 09/09/2014

Independent spenders dominate Senate, gubernatorial campaigns

LANSING - A clear trend has emerged from the months leading up to the beginning of the traditional political season: Independent spenders are dominating the air war in Michigan's gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races. Incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has spent $1.2 million for television adver... read more

posted on 09/03/2014

Donors behind the statewide candidates

LANSING - Incumbent Republican candidates for key statewide offices all hold wide fundraising advantages over their Democratic challengers according to the most recent campaign filings. • Gov. Rick Snyder has raised more than twice as much Mark Schauer: $9.5 million, compared to $4.5 million. G... read more

posted on 08/15/2014

Legislative candidates have raised $20.3 million

LANSING -- Candidates for the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives have reported raising $20.3 million so far this election cycle, according to reports filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections and compiled by the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance network. That total is up by more tha... read more

posted on 07/28/2014

PAC fundraising on record pace

LANSING - Michigan's top 150 state political action committees (PACs) are setting a blistering fundraising pace in the 2014 election cycle. They have raised $39.55 million so far, which is 44.7 percent more than the top 150 state PACs had raised at this point in the 2012 election cycle. The state... read more

posted on 07/28/2014

MI candidates for U.S. House raised $7M in 2Q 2014

LANSING - Michigan candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives reported raising $7 million between April 1st and June 30th according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Self-funding by candidates with considerable personal wealth is playing a pivotal role in a handful of h... read more

posted on 07/16/2014

Independents dominate TV spending in statewide campaigns

LANSING - Independent spenders are dominating television advertising related to Michigan's principal statewide political campaigns. Through June 30th, the candidates for governor and United States senator account for less than $4 million out of a total of $17.9 million spent for TV in the campaigns.... read more

posted on 07/01/2014

Democracy Deformed

This essay first appeared in Dome Magazine. By Rich Robinson Let me pose a principle of democracy: Legislative representation should be in proportion to the vote. That is, the partisan makeup of a legislative body should reflect the partisan makeup of the vote in the election that selected the... read more

posted on 06/27/2014

Independent spenders dominating senatorial, gubernatorial campaigns

LANSING - Independent spenders are dominating television advertising related to Michigan's gubernatorial and U.S. Senate campaigns. Through the Memorial Day holiday, the candidates' campaign committees had spent just $2.9 million out of the total of $12.8 million spent for advertisements about the c... read more

posted on 05/27/2014

Where's the ethics platform?

By Rich Robinson This Commentary first appeared in Dome Magazine. It seems awfully early, but people I talk with are already tired of specious claims in political ads and big-footin' independent spenders whose finances are unknown, or Byzantine if they are reported. So let's think about som... read more

posted on 05/16/2014

Top PACs' fundraising up by 44%

LANSING - Fundraising by Michigan's top 150 state political action committees (PACs) is up by $9.9 million, or 44 percent, compared to the top 150 PACs at this point in the 2012 election cycle, according to data compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from reports filed with the Michigan B... read more

posted on 04/28/2014

Proxies dominate Q1 2014 Michigan TV campaigns

LANSING - Independent committees and organizations have dominated Michigan's statewide political campaigns through the first quarter of 2014. In the most visible aspect of the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial campaigns - television advertising - independent groups outspent candidates by a wide margin. ... read more

posted on 04/16/2014

McCuthcheon JFC: A new weapon of political warfare

By Rich Robinson What is the practical significance of the Supreme Court's decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission? A whole new class of weapon, the McCutcheon joint fundraising committee (JFC), has been created for the American political war of mutually assured destruction. J... read more

posted on 04/11/2014

McCutcheon ruling is another blow to democracy

The 5-4 decision released today by the Supreme Court of the United States in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission is one more step in the direction of monetizing American democracy. By abolishing aggregate limits on contributions individuals can make to federal candidates, PACs and political pa... read more

posted on 04/02/2014

Election Reform Conference - Friday, April 4th in Ann Arbor

Reclaim Our American Democracy (ROAD) invites you to a one-day conference on Friday, April 4th to explore the oversized role of money in politics, and what can be done about it. The conference features presentations by state and national experts on money in politics, workshops on progressive elec... read more

posted on 03/26/2014

Top state PACs have raised $22.2M so far this cycle

LANSING - Michigan's top 150 state political action committees have reported raising $22,229,875 so far this election cycle, through February 10th. That is more than the top 150 state PACs reported as of April 20th in the 2012 cycle. Turnaround Detroit, a SuperPAC that supported the candidacy of ... read more

posted on 02/19/2014

Lansing lobbyists spent $35.4M in 2013

LANSING - Reported spending by Michigan lobbyists totaled $35,431,637 in 2013 according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State that were compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. That amount is down by 4.6 percent compared to reported lobbying expenditures from 2012, and... read more

posted on 02/11/2014

Constitutional execs raised $7M in 2013

LANSING - Michigan's three constitutional executive officeholders raised $7 million in 2013, and they have raised $8.7 million so far this election cycle. Governor Rick Snyder raised $5,126,488 in 2013, and he has raised $6.1 million for the election cycle. His fund balance at year-end stood just... read more

posted on 02/03/2014

Legislators raised $6.8M in 2013

LANSING - Michigan's incumbent state legislators raised $6.8 million for their state campaign committees in 2013. That total is 52 percent higher than comparable figures from four years ago. Two factors contribute to the dramatic increase in fundraising this cycle. First, there were 29 term-limit... read more

posted on 02/03/2014

Congressional candidates raised $14.4M in 2013

LANSING - Michigan candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives raised $4.1 million in the 4th quarter of 2013, and their fundraising total for the year now stands at $14,355,000. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp leads all candidates for the Michigan congressional delegation. He ha... read more

posted on 02/03/2014

MCFN statement on Governor signing SB 661

It is very disappointing that the Governor has signed Senate Bill 661. This very bad amendment to the Michigan Campaign Finance Act will extend the era of dark money campaigns in our state, and probably lead to even less transparency and accountability in Michigan politics than we have seen over the... read more

posted on 12/27/2013

A defining moment for Governor Snyder

This commentary first appeared in the Detroit Free Press By Rich Robinson This week brings a defining moment for the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder. We'll see whether he will govern in accordance with the platform of ethics in government on which he ran as a candidate. The question come... read more

posted on 12/12/2013

Michigan Senate: Just let money have its way in politics

LANSING - A very bad bill passed the Senate Committee on Local Government and Elections and the full Michigan Senate today, on a very fast track. Senate Bill 661 originally had the purpose of doubling limits on campaign finance contributions to state and local candidates for office. After an hour-lo... read more

posted on 11/14/2013

Top 150 PACs have raised $16.7M so far this cycle

LANSING - Michigan's top 150 state PACS raised $16,739,990 from January 1 through October 20, 2013, according to data compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from reports filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections and the Wayne County Clerk's office. That figure is up by 32.3 percent comp... read more

posted on 10/26/2013

MI U.S. Reps raised $3.6M in 3rd Quarter of 2013

LANSING - Michigan's U.S. representatives raised $3.6 million in the third quarter of 2013, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. That figure is down by 20 percent compared with the second quarter of 2013. Rep. Gary Peters, an announced Democratic candidate for the U.S.... read more

posted on 10/23/2013

MCFN supports SBM request for declaratory ruling

LANSING - The Michigan Campaign Finance Network submitted a comment to Secretary of State Ruth Johnson on Friday, September 27, 2013 supporting the request of the State Bar of Michigan for a declaratory ruling to require payments for all communications about Michigan judicial candidates to be report... read more

posted on 09/30/2013

Lobbying expenditures comparable to record pace of 2012

LANSING -Michigan lobbyists reported spending $20,327,273 in the first seven months of 2013, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State and compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. That figure is down by 1.7 percent compared to the same period in 2012, which was a ... read more

posted on 09/18/2013

Top 150 state PACs have raised $9.5M

LANSING - Michigan's top 150 state political action committees (PACs) raised $9,509,565 between January 1 and July 20, 2013. That amount represents a 10.7 percent increase compared to the $8.6 million raised by the top 150 state PACs through the same period last election cycle. The data were comp... read more

posted on 07/29/2013

MI U.S. Reps raised $4.5M in 2nd Quarter of 2013

LANSING - Michigan's U.S. representatives raised $4.5 million in the second quarter of 2013, according to reports filed this week with the Federal Election Commission. Rep. Gary Peters raised $1,049,563 in the second quarter to lead the Michigan delegation. He has announced his candidacy for the ... read more

posted on 07/17/2013

Michigan U.S. Reps Raised $2.2M in 1st Quarter 2013

LANSING - Michigan's delegates to the United States House of Representatives raised $2,170,989 in net contributions during the first quarter of 2013 according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. A recap of the members' fundraising follows: • Rep. Dan Benishek (R-1st) raised ... read more

posted on 04/17/2013

Lobbyists' spending hit record $37.1M in 2012

LANSING - Lansing lobbyists reported record spending in 2012 of $37.14 million. That amount is up by 4.8 percent compared to $35.44 million reported in 2011. "The greatest value of these reports is that they tell us just how much we don't know about lobbying activity in Lansing," said Rich Robins... read more

posted on 03/01/2013

MI ballot committees raised $154.3 million in Campaign 2012

LANSING - Michigan ballot committees smashed all previous records for fundraising and spending in 2012. In aggregate, the 2012 ballot committees raised $154.3 million. All six proposals lost at the polls on November 6th. The spending in three of the ballot contests - Proposal 2, 3 and 6 - broke t... read more

posted on 12/14/2012

Dark money and justice

By Rich Robinson This commentary first appeared in edited form in the Detroit Free Press under the title, "Who paid for those Michigan Supreme Court ads?" Michigan earned national election notoriety in 2012. Our Supreme Court campaign appears to have been the most expensive, least accountable ... read more

posted on 11/09/2012

Outside groups outspending candidates 2:1 in1st Congressional

LANSING - Spending by outside groups is already nearly twice what the candidate committees have raised in Michigan's most hotly contested congressional race. Through the pre-general campaign finance reports, incumbent Republican Rep. Dan Benishek had total receipts of $1,889,740 and Democratic chall... read more

posted on 10/31/2012

Michigan House candidates raised $13M by pre-general reports

LANSING - Fundraising by Michigan House candidates is running well ahead of the pace of the last two election cycles. Through pre-general reports, the general election candidates have raised $13.04 million. The comparable figures for 2010 and 2008 were $9.45 million and $11.7 million, respectively. ... read more

posted on 10/31/2012

America's most expensive, most secretive judicial election

LANSING - Michigan's Supreme Court election campaign appears to be headed for the notorious distinction of being the nation's most expensive and least transparent judicial election campaign in 2012. The candidates' pre-general election campaign finance reports filed Friday show that the major-par... read more

posted on 10/29/2012

Ballot committees have raised $141 M

amended 4:00p, 10/29/2012 LANSING - Active ballot committees raised $141.4 million in Michigan this election cycle, as of Friday, October 26th. Three of the six proposals voters will decide on November 6th have already smashed the state's previous record for a ballot contest, the 2004 campaign t... read more

posted on 10/28/2012

Top 150 state PACs have raised $34.7M

revised, 5:30p, 10/26/2012 LANSING - Michigan's top 150 state political action committees have raised $34.7 million through the October campaign finance reports. That total is the lowest recorded since the 2004 election cycle for the state's top 150 PACs. Rankings were compiled by the nonparti... read more

posted on 10/26/2012

Michigan's U.S. House candidates have raised $26.1M

LANSING - Michigan's general election candidates for the United States House of Representatives have raised $26.1 million in campaign cash through September 30th, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Michigan's most heavily contested U.S. House race is the 1st District... read more

posted on 10/16/2012

Ballot committees' TV ad bill: $30M

LANSING -Proponents and opponents of the proposed constitutional amendments that will be on Michigan's November ballot have spent approximately $30 million for television advertisements since August, according to figures compiled by the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Sales totals ... read more

posted on 10/11/2012

Supreme Court race well-funded for final month

LANSING - The Michigan Supreme Court campaign moves into its final four weeks with candidates who are well financed and political parties that are fully engaged. The six major-party nominees have collectively raised $2.26 million, so far. Incumbent Justice Brian Zahra, a Republican nominee wh... read more

posted on 10/09/2012

Michigan advertising one-sided for Senate, Presidential Races

LANSING -- Television advertising records show one-sided advertising in Michigan's U.S. Senate race and the contest for the state's presidential electoral votes. However, data suggest a highly competitive campaign in Michigan's First Congressional District. Presidential In the presidential rac... read more

posted on 10/08/2012

Lansing lobbyists' spending on record pace

amended 5:30p.m., 9/13/2012 LANSING - Lansing lobbyists have reported spending $20.7 million through the first seven months of 2012, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State and compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. That figure is up by 4.5 percent compared to... read more

posted on 09/13/2012

Michigan presidential air war: $10.9M - $0

LANSING -- The presidential television ad war in Michigan continues to unfold unlike anywhere else in America. Through Labor Day, a group of superPACs and nonprofit "social welfare" corporations opposing President Barack Obama and supporting Republican nominee Mitt Romney has spent $10.9 million. Ne... read more

posted on 09/06/2012

A campaign like no other

LANSING - The nonstop barrage of television advertisements Michigan viewers have seen attacking the policies and administration of President Barack Obama are part of a campaign targeting nine states considered to be potential battlegrounds for the November presidential election: Colorado, Florida, I... read more

posted on 08/02/2012

MI candidates for U.S. House, Senate have raised $40M

LANSING - Michigan candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate have raised more than $40 million so far this election cycle according to data compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. The reports are complete th... read more

posted on 07/30/2012

State House candidates have raised $9.7M

LANSING - Candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives raised $9,657,667 by July 22nd when they closed books on their pre-primary election reports. That total is up by 17.4 percent compared to the comparable point in the 2010 election cycle, and it is up by 14.6 percent compared to 2008. ... read more

posted on 07/30/2012

Top 150 state PACs have raised $27.3M

LANSING--Michigan's top 150 state political action committees have raised $27.3 million so far this election cycle according to reports filed this week with the Michigan Department of State. That total lags behind the corresponding total from 2010, when the Republican Governors Association had place... read more

posted on 07/26/2012

Ballot committees have spent $20M

LANSING -- Just twelve committees have raised $29.3 million - and already spent $20 million - in initial financial activity surrounding seven ballot questions that may be decided by the Michigan electorate in November. Records were compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from reports fi... read more

posted on 07/25/2012

Incumbents dominate Michigan congressional fundraising

LANSING -Second quarter campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission by Michigan's 2012 congressional candidates show incumbents dominating fundraising with little financial competitiveness apparent for the August 7th primary election or the November general election. Incum... read more

posted on 07/16/2012

Nonprofits blast Obama with $6M "issue ad" campaign

LANSING - The presidential air war is playing out in Michigan without participation of the candidates' campaign committees. Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney has paid for television advertising in Michigan since the presidential primary on February 28th. The television ad war has been a one-si... read more

posted on 07/06/2012

DIBC ad spending against bridge tops $3 million in 2012

LANSING - A television advertising blitz by the Detroit International Bridge Company that ran from Memorial Day to the end of June has increased DIBC's ad spending in opposition to a new public/private bridge between Detroit and Windsor to $3.36 million so far in 2012. That figure is gross sales thr... read more

posted on 07/05/2012

Millions in Michigan political ads unreported

LANSING – A five-party, multi-million-dollar Michigan television ad campaign orchestrated by Mentzer Media Services illustrates the major role of nonprofit advocacy corporations in contemporary presidential politics. Four nonprofits organized as 501(c)(4) corporations – Americans for Prosperi... read more

posted on 05/14/2012

Top PACs have raised $22.2M this cycle, up 12.2%

Coming on the heels of a record year of lobbyists' spending, there are more signs of recovery in the money-in-politics sector of Michigan's economy. Michigan’s top 150 political action committees have raised $22.2 million so far this election cycle. That figure is up by 12.2 percent compared to th... read more

posted on 04/30/2012

Campaign reports suggest limits of congressional competition

Michigan candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives have filed their campaign finance reports for the first quarter of 2012. Those reports suggest a limited number of competitive primaries and even fewer competitive races in the November general election. A synopsis of races that are likely to... read more

posted on 04/16/2012

Pres TV 2012: Independents outspend candidates by 50%

LANSING – First quarter television advertising in Michigan related to the 2012 presidential election stands at $7.6 million. SuperPACs and nonprofit “issue” advertisers have outspent the candidates’ campaign committees by 50 percent. Spending data were compiled by the nonprofit Michigan ... read more

posted on 03/01/2012

Record spending by MI lobbyists in 2011

LANSING – Reported Lansing lobbying expenditures totaled $35,348,800 in 2011, according to figures compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from reports filed with the Michigan Department of State. That amount is up by 11 percent compared to 2010 and it is a new state record for annual lo... read more

posted on 02/22/2012

Michiganders slow to feed SuperPACs

LANSING – SuperPACs associated with individual presidential candidates raised $47 million in 2011 but Michigan donors were slow to join the fray. Only Restore Our Future, which Mitt Romney has referred to as, “my SuperPAC,” raised more than $1,000 from Michigan contributors. Michigan donors... read more

posted on 02/09/2012

Can Durant tap West Michigan donors?

LANSING – Fund-raising for Michigan’s Republican senatorial primary campaign is competitive, as of year-end reports that cover the period through December 31, 2011. Pete Hoekstra had raised $2,001,832 and had $1,524,458 in cash on hand, while Clark Durant had raised $1,376,744 and had $1,183,885... read more

posted on 02/09/2012

Congressional fundraising reflects redistricting

LANSING -- Fund-raising figures reported by Michigan’s active congressional candidates carry a strong suggestion of the effect of the 2011 redistricting process. There will be competitive Democratic primaries this year, as there were after the 2001 redistricting process, and less competition in No... read more

posted on 02/03/2012

Monetizing Democracy

This commentary first appeared in Dome Magazine By Rich Robinson This is campaign finance orthodoxy in early 2012: Corporations are people, money is speech and democracy is when my billionaire whups your billionaire. Comedians have lampooned the silliness of the first strained equivalence. ... read more

posted on 02/03/2012

Officeholders raised $5.9M during reporting hiatus

LANSING – Michigan’s legislators and elected constitutional executives filed their first campaign finance reports in more than a year on Tuesday, January 31st. In aggregate, they reported raising $5.9 million: $3.5 million by representatives, $1.6 million by senators and $832,000 by the Governor... read more

posted on 02/01/2012

Ethics, lobbying and campaign finance reform

It was welcome news when Governor Snyder announced during his 2012 State of the State address that he believes Michigan needs campaign finance, lobbying and ethics reforms. It has been a long time since a Michigan governor has expressed serious interest in this important area of government accountab... read more

posted on 01/20/2012

Top PACs have raised $12.7M

LANSING – Michigan’s top 150 political action committees (PACs) have raised $12,651,003 since January 1, 2011, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State and compiled by the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network. That figure is up by 4.9 percent compared to the s... read more

posted on 10/27/2011

Michigan High Court Races Most Expensive in Nation in 2009-10

Michigan easily had the nation’s costliest judicial elections in 2009-2010, fueled by a nasty TV ad blitzkrieg funded by special-interests group, a new report by three nonpartisan legal reform groups discloses. Campaign spending for Michigan Supreme Court seats was estimated at as high as $11.1... read more

posted on 10/27/2011

Independent spenders dominated 2010 Michigan campaigns

LANSING – Independent spenders overshadowed candidates’ committees in financing Michigan’s most prominent 2010 election campaigns. Details are contained in the 2010 Citizen’s Guide to Michigan Campaign Finance, released today by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. In campaigns for stat... read more

posted on 09/28/2011

DIBC has spent $4.7M for grassroots lobbying, reported nothing

LANSING – The Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) has spent $4.7 million so far this year for a grassroots-lobbying television advertising campaign opposing the proposed New International Trade Crossing. That figure is gross sales. Data on the ad campaign were collected by the Michigan ... read more

posted on 09/19/2011

The recession is over - for lobbyists

LANSING -- It appears that the recession has ended, at least for Lansing lobbyists. They reported spending $19,664,879 in the first seven months of 2011. That figure is up by 11.6 percent compared to the first seven months of 2010, and it exceeds the spending pace of 2008, the record year for lobbyi... read more

posted on 09/14/2011

Top PACs take in $8.6M

LANSING – Michigan’s top 150 political action committees (PACs) have raised $8,587,412 since January 1, 2011, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State and compiled by the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network. That figure is down by 3.2 percent compared to this... read more

posted on 07/26/2011

Campaign transparency hit new lows in Michigan in 2010

LANSING – Nearly $23 million in unreported television advertising in 2010 statewide election campaigns pushed the state total of undisclosed candidate-focused “issue” advertising to almost $70 million since 2000. Those data were compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network in a new rep... read more

posted on 06/13/2011

The RGA's $114M shell game

LANSING -- The 2010 election cycle was widely noted for spending by interest groups acting independently of candidate committees. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that committees other than candidate committees spent $483 million in federal campaigns, with non-party groups accounting for m... read more

posted on 03/15/2011

Lansing lobbying expenditures flat in 2010

LANSING -- Reported Lansing lobbying expenditures totaled $31,811,476 in 2010, according to figures compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from reports filed with the Michigan Department of State. That amount is down by $38,440, or one-tenth of a percent, compared to 2009 figures. Afte... read more

posted on 02/24/2011

Top PACs raised $48 million in 2010 cycle

LANSING – Michigan’s top 150 political action committees (PACs) raised $48,353,506 in the 2010 election cycle, according to data compiled by the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance from reports filed with the Michigan Department of State. That figure is up by 16.8 percent compared to the $4... read more

posted on 02/03/2011

Reinventing Michigan Politics

This commentary first appeared in The Center for Michigan eNewsletter By Rich Robinson In one of her last interviews as Michigan’s chief executive, Gov. Jennifer Granholm told Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta that the public is largely unaware of interests influencing laws and public pol... read more

posted on 01/20/2011

$30M spent in three Michigan congressional races

amended 5:00 p.m., 12/3/2010 LANSING –The candidates and interest groups spent $30 million in Michigan’s three most competitive congressional elections in 2010. Overall, the candidates’ spending was $12.2 million and outside groups spent $17.9 million. Spending totaled $14.1 million in th... read more

posted on 12/03/2010

Candidates are junior partners in campaign ad wars

LANSING – Candidate committees are junior partners in the campaign ad wars being waged over Michigan’s governorship and two seats on the Michigan Supreme Court. In the gubernatorial campaign, Republican Rick Snyder and Democrat Virg Bernero have spent a combined total of $3.1 million for televis... read more

posted on 10/29/2010

The era of corporate PACs in Michigan begins

LANSING – A new era has begun for Michigan political action committees. Reports filed Monday with the Michigan Department of State show that the first state PACs funded by corporate contributions have been established. The Michigan Association of Realtors has established an eponymously named s... read more

posted on 10/27/2010

House even, Republicans have big money advantage in Senate

LANSING – Competition for control of the Michigan House of Representatives is nearly dead-even in campaign finance terms. However, in the contest for control of the Michigan Senate, Republicans have raised twice as much money as Democrats, they’ve already spent 60 percent more money than Democra... read more

posted on 10/25/2010

Statewide candidates file pre-general finance reports

LANSING – The candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general and justice of the Supreme Court have filed their pre-election reports. Republican Rick Snyder has wide cash advantage over his Democratic opponent Virg Bernero, and the incumbent Supreme Court justices, Robert P. Young, J... read more

posted on 10/22/2010

Michigan Chamber gives $5.4M to RGA

LANSING -- So far in 2010 the Michigan Chamber of Commerce has contributed $5,372,500 to the Republican Governors Association. That amount includes $2,825,000 sent to the RGA in the third quarter of 2010, according to a report filed with the Internal Revenue Service on October 15th. That is on top o... read more

posted on 10/19/2010

Congressional candidates raised $7.5M in 3rd quarter

LANSING – Michigan’s major party congressional candidates reported raising $7.5 million in the period from July 15th through September 30th, according to reports filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission. As a group, the candidates have raised $25.4 million so far this election cycle.... read more

posted on 10/16/2010

Lobbyists report spending $17.8M through July

LANSING – Lansing lobbyists reported spending $17.8 million in the first seven months of 2010, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State and compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. That total is up by 1.7 percent compared to 2009, when lobbyists reported spending ... read more

posted on 10/07/2010

Proxies dominate early campaign ad wars

LANSING – Candidates’ television ad campaigns are being overshadowed by third-party ad sponsors in the early phase of three out of four of Michigan’s hottest political campaigns. The candidates’ television campaigns account for less than 20 percent of the TV advertising in the 1st Congressio... read more

posted on 10/05/2010

Convention nominees report campaign finances

LANSING – Post-convention campaign finance reports filed by the major party nominees for statewide offices show one very close money-race and two races where there are wide disparities between candidates. Democrat Jocelyn Benson and Republican Ruth Johnson have nearly identical fund balances o... read more

posted on 09/29/2010

Legislative candidates raised $20.9M through post-primary

Candidates for the Michigan Legislature raised $20.9 million and spent $14.5 million through the post-primary campaign reports. That fundraising total is up by 8.3 percent compared to 2006, the last time candidates for both the House and Senate faced the electorate. Summary statistics per chamber fo... read more

posted on 09/24/2010

Comparing 21st century Michigan gubernatorial primaries

The 2010 gubernatorial primary candidates reported raising $18.9 million, through the post primary reports filed on September 2nd. Republican nominee Rick Snyder raised the most with $8,092,507. As of the August 23rd close of books, Democratic nominee Virg Bernero raised 6th most among the field of ... read more

posted on 09/03/2010

Gub TV: $10.6M; Unaccountable: $3.9M

LANSING: -- Television advertising for Michigan’s gubernatorial primary election totals $10.6 million. Of that total, $3.9 million paid for candidate-focused “issue” advertising which is not reported in the state’s campaign finance disclosure system. Data were collected by the Michigan C... read more

posted on 07/30/2010

RGA's $4M leads record PAC fundraising

The Republican Governors Association established a Michigan state political action committee (PAC) last December and it has ascended to the top of the list of state PACs with its latest filing. The Republican Governors Association Michigan 2010 PAC has taken in $4,162,586 since April, and so far thi... read more

posted on 07/27/2010

Legislative candidates have raised $17.4M for primaries

revised 7/27/2010 The field of 663 primary election candidates for the Michigan Legislature report having raised $17.4 million through July 18th, according to reports on file with the Bureau of Elections, as of 11:00 a.m. on July 26th. House of Representatives Reported fundraising by House ca... read more

posted on 07/26/2010

Gubernatorial candidates have raised $16.2 M

LANSING -- Michigan’s active gubernatorial candidates have raised $16.2 million through July 18th, the end of the Pre-primary Election reporting period, according to reports filed with the Bureau of Elections. Republican Rick Snyder has raised the most among candidates with $7.3 million, nearly... read more

posted on 07/23/2010

State candidates for U.S. House have raised $20.3M

Lansing – Michigan candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives raised $20.3 million this election cycle, as of June 30th, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Freshman Democratic Reps. Gary Peters (9th District) and Mark Schauer (7th District) are the leading fu... read more

posted on 07/16/2010

Gubernatorial TV spending totals $3.4 million on July 4th

LANSING – With just more than four weeks to go until primary Election Day, television advertising is lagging far behind the pace of Michigan’s last two gubernatorial campaigns. Five candidates and one nonprofit organization have spent $3,371,214 so far, with Republicans Mike Cox and Rick Snyder ... read more

posted on 07/02/2010

Reading the tea leaves of public funding applications

LANSING – With over 500 individuals seeking state offices this election cycle, it is safe to say that candidates have already raised several million dollars this year. However, due to disgracefully lax state reporting requirements, the citizens of Michigan currently have access to 2010 fundraising... read more

posted on 06/14/2010

Invisible hands pull strings in Michigan campaigns

This opinion was published in the Detroit Free Press on June 10, 2010 under the title, 'Pay special attention to non-advocacy spending' By Rich Robinson In the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned precedent to allow corporations to make inde... read more

posted on 06/10/2010

Gubernatorial TV totals $2.15M on Memorial Day

revised 6/2/2010 LANSING – Michigan gubernatorial television advertising has totaled $2,146,981 through May 31, 2010, all on the Republican side of the contest. Rick Snyder leads the spending race, so far, at $1,336,893. Mike Cox currently ranks second at $527,737. Mike Bouchard is third at $4... read more

posted on 06/01/2010

Robinson receives DMBA Liberty Bell Award

DETROIT -- The Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association has given its 2010 Liberty Bell Award to Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. The Association’s incoming president, Morley Witus, made the presentation at the DMBA’s annual meeting on May 27th at the Gr... read more

posted on 05/28/2010

One small victory for democracy

LANSING – The Michigan Department of State has given the Michigan Chamber of Commerce clear guidance on how the Chamber can exercise newly won campaign expenditure rights that flowed from the U.S Supreme Court decision earlier this year in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission... read more

posted on 05/23/2010

Cowardly New World

LANSING – The future of Michigan political campaigns is unfolding this week in Grand Rapids. The Mike Cox gubernatorial campaign and a corporate aggregator of undisclosed political contributions called Americans for Job Security are targeting Cox’s primary opponent Pete Hoekstra in a two-pronged... read more

posted on 05/13/2010

Transparency in campaigns? State just says, "No."

LANSING – The Michigan Department of State issued a draft response on April 30th to a request from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce for a Declaratory Ruling on disclosure requirements for corporate expenditures in State campaigns in view of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year in ... read more

posted on 05/10/2010

Handi-PAC-ing the Michigan Leadership Derby

LANSING -- As the time approaches when term limits will remove Michigan’s current constitutional executives and all top leaders on both sides of the aisle in both legislative chambers, concerned observers’ attention turns to the question of who will lead State government on January 1, 2011. E... read more

posted on 04/29/2010

State PAC fundraising continues to lag

LANSING – Fundraising by Michigan’s top state political action committees (PACs) continues to lag behind the pace of recent election cycles, according to reports filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections. The top 150 state PACs raised $19.8 million from January 2009 through April 20, 2010. Tha... read more

posted on 04/27/2010

Secretary Land's pass/fail legacy test

LANSING –Terri Lynn Land will define her legacy as Secretary of State when her department issues its Declaratory Ruling for campaign disclosure rules necessitated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The Department of State’s ruling will restore t... read more

posted on 03/17/2010

State lobbying down $2.3M in 2009

revised 2/23/2010 LANSING – Michigan’s decade long recession has finally affected the Lansing lobbying industry. Reported lobbying expenditures for 2009 totaled $31,849,916, down by 6.8 percent compared to 2008. The top lobbying entities have not been affected in the same way as the indust... read more

posted on 02/22/2010

Legislators raised $6 million in 2009

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 c... read more

posted on 02/08/2010

Campaign spending for open statewide seats on a blistering pace

Spending by candidates to be governor, attorney general and secretary of state appears sluggish this year compared to the last time the offices were on the ballot in 2006, when incumbents occupied all three offices. But campaign spending so far is two and a half times what it was at this point in th... read more

posted on 02/02/2010

MCFN statement on <i>Citizens United v. F.E.C.</i>

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and reversing Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce probably won’t change much about the way state political campaigns are run in Michigan. The political parties and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce have spent s... read more

posted on 01/21/2010

Why is beer tax off the table?

As published in the Lansing State Journal, 12/17/2009 By Rich Robinson Nearly any serious observer of Michigan’s budget process would tell you our state’s tax codes are an anachronistic mess. Our income tax, sales tax and business tax are ill-suited for a 21st century economy and need to b... read more

posted on 12/17/2009

Supreme Court DQ Rule: A Glass Half Empty

By Rich Robinson The new rule adopted by the Michigan Supreme Court that specifies grounds and procedures for disqualification of a justice whose impartiality in a case is legitimately in question is a well-reasoned response to the contemporary realities of judicial election campaigns. In Mic... read more

posted on 12/11/2009

"Issue" advertising dominates 19th District TV campaign

LANSING – Candidate-focused “issue” advertising is dominating the television campaign for the 19th Senate District special election. Republican candidate Mike Nofs has purchased $148,000 worth of television time, while his supporters, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce ($104,446) the Michigan Re... read more

posted on 10/30/2009

PAC fundraising continues to lag behind past cycles

LANSING – Fundraising by Lansing’s leading political action committees (PACs) continues to lag compared to the last two election cycles. The state’s top 150 PACs raised $12,062,243 through October 20th, according to data compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from reports filed with... read more

posted on 10/28/2009

State lobbying expenditures dip in 2009

LANSING – Reported spending by Lansing lobbyists for the first seven months of 2009 totaled $17,281,754, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State and compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. That total is down by 11.3 percent compared to January through July of 20... read more

posted on 09/21/2009

Great Recession hits Michigan money-in-politics sector

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 Campaig... read more

posted on 08/05/2009

MCFN urges Supremes to consider campaign spending in DQ rule

LANSING – The Michigan Campaign Finance Network is urging the Michigan Supreme Court to consider campaign spending as a reason for recusal, in response to the Court’s invitation for public comment on draft disqualification rules. Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Caperto... read more

posted on 08/05/2009

A Victory for Impartial Justice

Statement of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network The U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Caperton v. Massey Coal Company establishes that extraordinary campaign spending to support the election of a judge can create an unconstitutional probability of bias that requires the judge to disqu... read more

posted on 06/08/2009

Campaign finance records were set in 2008

LANSING -- Despite Michigan’s downward economic spiral, several campaign finance records were set in the state’s 2008 election cycle. Details are contained in the 2008 Citizen’s Guide to Michigan Campaign Finance, released today by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. On the federal side... read more

posted on 05/14/2009

Lobbyists' spending topped $34 million in 2008

LANSING – Lansing lobbyists spent $34,075,809 in 2008, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State. This set a new record for lobbyists’ spending, up by six percent compared to the previous record of $32,212,332, set in 2007. Six multi-client firms topped the list in 2008... read more

posted on 03/23/2009

Poll: Michiganders want a firewall between judges and campaign supporters

LANSING – By a three-to-one margin, Michigan voters believe that there is a probability of bias when a judge hears a case involving a major financial supporter of his election campaign. Eighty-five percent believe that a judge should disqualify himself from a case involving such a campaign support... read more

posted on 03/17/2009

Supreme Court Election Campaigns: A Threat to Fair and Impartial Courts?

Can two sides in a lawsuit receive equal justice – when one side has spent $3 million to elect the judge who is deciding the case? That is the question at the heart of Caperton v. Massey, a landmark case that was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on March 3rd. That case and its implications ... read more

posted on 03/06/2009

Top Michigan PACs raised $41.4 million in 2008 cycle

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. ... read more

posted on 02/04/2009

Anonymous donors dominated Supreme Court campaign

LANSING – More than 60 percent of spending for the Michigan Supreme Court campaign between incumbent Chief Justice Clifford Taylor and Judge Diane Marie Hathaway will not be disclosed in any campaign finance report because it paid for candidate-focused “issue” advertising. Michigan campaign fi... read more

posted on 11/19/2008

Campaign Finance 2008: A first look back

Not all the campaign finance data that will be reported are in. Candidate committees have to file post-election reports, and late independent expenditures by state PACs will not be reported until the end of January. But some major story lines from Campaign 2008 are already clear. Here is a first loo... read more

posted on 11/11/2008

Top PACs raised $37.1 million

LANSING -- Michigan’s top 150 political action committees (PACs) reported raising $37.1 million dollars in their pre-election October reports. That total is down by 28.5 percent compared to corresponding figures from the record-setting 2006 election cycle, when the top 150 PACs reported $51.9 mill... read more

posted on 10/29/2008

House candidates raise $11.7 million

The candidates who will appear on the November 4th ballot for the Michigan House of Representatives had raised $11,675,666 through October 19th, the date they closed books for their pre-general election campaign finance report. That total is 1.3 percent less than corresponding figures from the re... read more

posted on 10/28/2008

Underground Supreme Court campaign

LANSING – Chief Justice Clifford W. Taylor and Judge Diane Marie Hathaway already have raised more than $2 million for their Supreme Court election contest: Taylor: $1.8 million and Hathaway: $370,000. Taylor's campaign has spent $1,265,000 for television advertisements while Hathaway's campai... read more

posted on 10/27/2008

Obama's late ad-vantage

LANSING - Barack Obama’s presidential campaign spent 50 percent more for television advertising than John McCain in the first five weeks after Labor Day in Michigan: $5,546,000 to $3,683,000. Obama’s September surge overcame McCain’s early television spending advantage in Michigan, which was d... read more

posted on 10/06/2008

Growth sector? Lobbying in Lansing!

LANSING – Lansing lobbyists reported spending $19,159,635 in the first seven months of 2008, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State. That total is up by eight percent compared to the first seven months of 2007. Five multi-client firms topped the lobbying expenditure li... read more

posted on 09/17/2008

House candidates on record-setting fund-raising pace

Candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives have raised $10.4 million and spent $6.9 million this election cycle through August 25th, according to post-primary campaign finance reports filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections. The amount raised by candidates through the post-primary repo... read more

posted on 09/10/2008

Presidential advertising at $13.6M in Michigan

LANSING – The presidential candidates’ campaigns and their supporters spent $13.6 million for television advertising in Michigan between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Sen. John McCain’s campaign spent $6.15 million, while Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign spent $5.48 million. Among supporting gr... read more

posted on 09/02/2008

Taylor’s campaign sets Supreme Court fundraising record

LANSING – The campaign of Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford Taylor has raised $1,464,000 so far this year, setting a new record for a Michigan Supreme Court candidate’s campaign committee. Taylor had raised $1,419,000 as of August 7th, according to his pre-convention campaign finance... read more

posted on 08/19/2008

Limited competition for state judicial seats

LANSING – Michiganders will elect 249 state court judges this November and three-fourths of those seats have only one candidate. There are 180 incumbents (12 court of appeals, 66 circuit court, 91 district court and 11 probate court) with no challenger for the primary or general election, and six ... read more

posted on 07/31/2008

Top PACs have raised $27.3M

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 ... read more

posted on 07/29/2008

Michigan House candidates' fundraising tops $8.4 million

LANSING -- The field of 449 primary election candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives reports raising $8.4 million this election cycle through July 20th, according to reports on file with the state’s Bureau of Elections as of July 27th. The 65 House incumbents have raised $3.5 milli... read more

posted on 07/28/2008

Presidential TV ads: $7.2 million so far

LANSING – Television advertising for the 2008 presidential general election got a late start by recent Michigan standards but presidential TV ads have become a consistent presence in recent weeks. John McCain’s television campaign began May 28th and spent $3.2 million by July 20th. Barack... read more

posted on 07/23/2008

New guide explores redistricting

LANSING – The Michigan Campaign Finance Network today announced the availability of new publication from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, A Citizen’s Guide to Redistricting. The Citizen’s Guide is a comprehensive look at the rules for drawing political district lines, in... read more

posted on 07/10/2008

Poll's message to pols: Fix this mess

LANSING - A new poll of Michigan residents shows broad dissatisfaction with the performance of state government and deep concern about economic-related issues. Michiganders had the most negative view about the direction of their state in the five-state Midwestern survey: 16 percent right track, 81 p... read more

posted on 06/19/2008

Money behind the policy push

Two of the major policy initiatives in Lansing this legislative session have been driven by seven-figure advertising campaigns, more than $700,000 in political contributions to legislators so far this election cycle and hefty lobbying campaigns, the extent of which will never be known with any real ... read more

posted on 05/22/2008

New Report Documents Special Interest Pressure on Midwest Courts

The Midwest Democracy Network and the Justice at Stake Campaign released the following statement to accompany their new report, The New Politics of Judicial Elections in the Great Lake States, 2000-2008: “This spring, Wisconsin voters endured their second special-interest-group dominated Supr... read more

posted on 05/08/2008

Top PACs have raised $21.8 million this cycle

LANSING – Michigan’s top 150 political action committees (PACs) have raised $21.8 million so far this election cycle, according to reports filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections. That total is down by 6 percent compared to funds raised by the top 150 PACs at this point in the record-sett... read more

posted on 04/28/2008

Stop the Revolving Door

LANSING – The Michigan Campaign Finance Network joined other reform advocates today in calling for a mandatory pause in the ‘revolving door’ between high-level public service and paid lobbying. Michigan is in the minority nationally in not requiring an interruption between legislating or ex... read more

posted on 03/10/2008

Lobbyists reported spending $32.1M in 2007

revised 2/21/2008 LANSING – Lansing lobbyists spent $32,101,151 in 2007, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State. That total is up by six percent compared to 2006. Governmental Consultant Services, Inc., a multi-client firm, was the leading spender again in 2007 at $... read more

posted on 02/20/2008

Grassroots to Legislature: Support Impartial Justice

LANSING – Grassroots activists brought a simple message to Lansing on Tuesday: Michigan’s high-priced and largely secretive Supreme Court election campaigns undermine public trust and confidence in the state’s highest court. Taxpayer-financed election campaigns would give Supreme Court candida... read more

posted on 02/19/2008

Delayed accountability beats no accountability

REVISED 2/4/2008 LANSING – State officeholders’ first required campaign finance reports since their 2006 post-election reports were due on Thursday January 31st. During the time since their last reports were filed they have collectively raised $4,452,100, according to data compiled by the Mic... read more

posted on 02/01/2008

Health check-up for Midwest democracy

LANSING – Political reform organizations from five Midwest states have collaborated to publish a new book that assesses the state of democracy in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The volume analyzes political pathologies that are unique to the respective states and those that cut... read more

posted on 01/16/2008

Romney is top TV spender in Michigan GOP presidential primary

LANSING -- Former Massachusetts Governor Willard “Mitt” Romney was the leading spender in Michigan’s 2008 Republican presidential primary television ad wars. Romney spent over $2 million, nearly three-times as much as Arizona Senator John McCain, and more than four-times as much as former Arka... read more

posted on 01/14/2008

Meijer's failed coup d'etat

Acme Township Treasurer William Boltres has gotten relief in a case of dueling lawsuits with Grand Rapids-based Meijer, Inc. Meijer had sued Boltres and three other Acme Township Board members in May 2006, alleging conflicts of interest in their decision on a land-use permit for a proposed Meijer st... read more

posted on 12/26/2007

Leadership PACs are big winners in October reports

LANSING – Michigan’s top political action committees continue to show a robust capacity to raise money, but the top 150 state PACs are slightly behind the pace of the 2006 election cycle. The top 150 PACs so far this cycle have raised $13,460,264 through October 20, 2007. The top 150 PACs had ra... read more

posted on 10/30/2007

Here we go again: A $20M Supreme Court campaign?

LANSING – A nasty, noisy and ridiculously expensive Michigan Supreme Court election campaign may be in the offing once again in 2008. Chief Justice Clifford Taylor and Michigan Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer have both raised the possibility of a $20 million campaign next year when Chief Jus... read more

posted on 10/22/2007

Surprise! Lobbyists' spending up (again)

LANSING – Reported expenditures by Michigan lobbyists totaled $17,736,907 from January 1 through July 31, 2007, according to reports filed with the Michigan Department of State. That total is up by four percent compared to the same period in 2006. “The interest groups have been working very h... read more

posted on 10/03/2007

Top PACs beat record fundraising pace of 2006 cycle

LANSING -- Money continues to flow in the Lansing political marketplace. The top 150 political action committees (PACs) have raised $9,558,690 through July 20th this year. That pace is just slightly ahead of the 2005-2006 election cycle, when the top 150 PACs had raised $9,538,880 through the July 2... read more

posted on 07/30/2007

Michigan political campaigns topped $192 million in 2006

LANSING – Political campaigns in Michigan raised and spent over $192 million in the 2006 election cycle. Data and analysis for the record-breaking campaign spending are compiled in the 2006 Citizen’s Guide to Michigan Campaign Finance, released today by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. ... read more

posted on 07/18/2007

Roberts' New Rules

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Federal Election Commission. v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. effectively eviscerates one of the two major provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. Writing for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Robert’s opinion gives corporations and union... read more

posted on 06/26/2007

Michigan lobbyists spent $29.9 million in 2006

LANSING – State lobbyists reported $29.9 million in lobbying expenditures in 2006. That figure is up by 28.2 percent compared to the last gubernatorial-election year of 2002 when lobbyists’ spending totaled $23.3 million. Reported spending included $450,994 for food and beverages. Multi-clien... read more

posted on 02/26/2007

Top 150 PACs raised $51.9 million in 2006 cycle

LANSING – Michigan’s top 150 political action committees raised $51.9 million in the 2006 election cycle. That total is up by 55 percent compared to the fundraising totals for the top 150 in the 2002 and 2004 election cycles when the totals were $33.2 million and $33.4 million, respectively. ... read more

posted on 02/07/2007

A Political Reform Agenda for Michigan

Election administration · Establish regulations against fraud in the ballot initiative process · Allow no-excuse absentee ballots · Reduce from 30 days the time requirement between registration and voting · Rotate which party’s candidate is listed first on the ballot · Assure that electi... read more

posted on 11/28/2006

TV coverage of campaigns increased; ads still dominated

LANSING – Local news coverage of state election campaigns increased significantly in the month before Election Day. But paid political advertising occupied more than 2.5 times as much of a typical 30-minute local newscast in Great Lakes states during that period. In the Detroit market, on avera... read more

posted on 11/21/2006

Michigan candidates have raised $117 million

The following summarizes Michigan’s state and federal candidates’ fundraising through pre-general campaign finance reports: Statewide candidates The gubernatorial campaign has captured the greatest share of attention and money. Republican challenger Dick DeVos’s campaign has raised $41.5 m... read more

posted on 11/05/2006

The DeVos campaign in national perspective

A number of interested parties have asked how Dick DeVos’s self-funded gubernatorial campaign ranks among self-funded state campaigns across the country. As of his pre-general election campaign finance report, Mr. DeVos and his wife Betsy DeVos had provided $34.7 million of the campaign’s $41.2 ... read more

posted on 11/02/2006

Gubernatorial TV campaigns top $50 million

LANSING – Television advertising for the 2006 Michigan gubernatorial campaign has passed the $50 million mark and ads are still being placed for the last days of the campaign. That figure represents gross sales through Michigan’s commercial broadcasters, state cable systems and broadcasters ... read more

posted on 11/01/2006

Top PACs' fundraising hits $47 million

LANSING – The state’s top 150 political action committees have raised $47 million so far this election cycle according to reports filed with the Bureau of Elections. That is 59 percent more than the top 150 PACs of 2004 had raised at the same point in the last election cycle. The remarkable i... read more

posted on 10/29/2006

Mutually assured destruction

Statement of Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network: There is a new political action committee in Michigan called Coalition for Progress. It’s the biggest PAC we’ve ever had – $5.2 million. Jon Stryker of Kalamazoo and Pat Stryker of Fort Collins, Colorad... read more

posted on 10/26/2006

Congressional incumbents dominate money chase

LANSING – Michigan’s incumbent members of the U.S. House of Representatives maintain a wide fundraising advantage over the candidates who are challenging them this November. Campaign finance reports filed this weekend show that the incumbents who will appear on the November ballot have raised $1... read more

posted on 10/16/2006

30 seconds of news, $30 million in ads

LANSING – Research conducted by the University of Wisconsin NewsLab shows that television broadcasters in Detroit and Lansing devoted an average of less than 30 seconds to Michigan’s campaigns and elections per 30-minute news broadcast during the first month of traditional campaign season, betwe... read more

posted on 10/12/2006

Gubernatorial TV spending passes $26 million

LANSING – Spending for television advertising has reached $26 million in Michigan’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign. Governor Jennifer Granholm has spent $2.5 million for TV ads and the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee has spent $5.5 million for “issue” ads supporting Granholm’s cam... read more

posted on 09/28/2006

Midwest Reform Survey - Michigan results

Michigan at a glance….. State specific results from the Joyce Foundation survey on political reform show that the opinions of Michigan residents fall in line with many of their neighbors in the Midwest. Although they hold extremely negative views on the direction of the state, Michiganders exp... read more

posted on 09/14/2006

Ruling disallows co-op lobbying gifts

LANSING – A declaratory ruling issued on Friday, September 8, 2006 by Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land will end the practice of “split-the-cost” gift giving by state lobbyists. The declaratory ruling was requested by Robert S. LaBrant, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the Mich... read more

posted on 09/11/2006

Preseason gubernatorial TV ad tab: $16.7 million

LANSING -- As Michigan’s gubernatorial campaign reaches the traditional starting date – traditional Labor Day – the campaigns have already spent $16.7 million for television advertising. Those figures are gross sales through August 31st. The nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network col... read more

posted on 08/31/2006

Clean Elections Week: August 21-25, 2006

What is Clean Elections week? On Monday, August 21, a coalition of reform groups will ask their activists to contact their representatives’ district offices asking them to support publicly financed elections at the federal level. The groups are Common Cause, Democracy Matters, Public Campaign, ... read more

posted on 08/21/2006

7th District Republican primary tops $3 million

LANSING – With Michigan’s primary election just four days away, the candidates in the 7th District Republican primary and their independent supporters have raised and spent over $3 million. Challenger Tim Walberg’s campaign has raised $623,222 from individuals and $21,300 from political ac... read more

posted on 08/04/2006

Legislative candidates’ fundraising tops $16 million

LANSING – The field of 513 primary election candidates for the Michigan Legislature report having raised $16.3 million this election cycle through July 23rd, according to reports on file with the state’s Bureau of Elections as of August 1st. Collectively, the 80 House incumbents and 32 Senat... read more

posted on 08/02/2006

Candidate questionnaire explores democracy issues

LANSING – The Michigan Campaign Finance Network and a diverse group of organizations have joined to ask the 512 primary election candidates for the Michigan Legislature a series of 37 questions on issues related to the health of our democracy. Results of the survey are now available on the web sit... read more

posted on 08/01/2006

Incumbents rule congressional fundraising

LANSING – Michigan’s 15 incumbent members of the U.S. House of Representatives have dominated the political fundraising, according to pre-primary election campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission this week. They have raised $11.4 million, 86.8 percent of the total for ... read more

posted on 07/28/2006

Top PACs have raised $30 million

LANSING – Michigan’s top political action committees continued to show robust collective growth in their most recent reports to the Michigan Bureau of Elections. The top 150 PACs have raised $30.0 million so far this election cycle, through July 20th. That figure is 26.6 percent ahead of the fun... read more

posted on 07/27/2006

DDV4G TV tops $10 M

LANSING – The Dick DeVos for Governor campaign committee has spent more than $10 million for television advertising in a campaign that began on February 18th. The unprecedented ad blitz has already doubled the previous record for media spending by a Michigan gubernatorial candidate for an entire e... read more

posted on 07/19/2006

DeVos dollars and "education choice"

LANSING -- The June 18th edition of the Sunday Free Press had a story on the DeVos family's prodigious giving to political committees, particularly the state and federal Republican Party committees, and Restoring the American Dream PAC. However, the story neglected to mention Prince-DeVos family con... read more

posted on 06/21/2006

DeVos TV campaign at $5.4 million

LANSING – Three months prior to the traditional beginning of political campaign season and five months before Election Day, Dick DeVos for Governor already has purchased more television advertising than any gubernatorial campaign committee in Michigan history: $5.4 million. DeVos is unchallenged i... read more

posted on 06/05/2006

Top 150 PACs up 24 percent

The state’s top 150 political action committees (PACs) are setting new fundraising records so far in the 2005-2006 election cycle. Through April 20, 2006 the top 150 PACs had raised $23,155,591. That figure is 24.0 percent higher than the $18.7 million the top 150 PACs had raised at this point in ... read more

posted on 04/27/2006

Incumbents dominate congressional campaign fund raising

LANSING – Most of Michigan’s incumbent members of Congress are in a commanding position from a campaign finance perspective according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. As of the end of March, only five of Michigan’s 15 incumbents are being challenged by opponents who have ... read more

posted on 04/18/2006

Michigan officeholders raised $10 million in 2005

LANSING-State officeholders raised over $10 million in calendar year 2005 but didn't disclose any of it until last week when they filed their 2006 Annual campaign finance reports. Governor Jennifer Granholm accounted for nearly half that amount taking in total receipts of $5 million. With $8.1 mi... read more

posted on 02/06/2006

PAC fundraising tops $33 million for '04 cycle

LANSING – The House Republican Campaign Committee and the Michigan House Democratic Fund led all Michigan political action committees in fundraising for the 2004 election cycle. The House Republicans became the first Michigan PAC to raise $3 million in a two-year election cycle, although the commi... read more

posted on 02/04/2005

Judicial campaign 'whodunit'

LANSING -- More than half the money spent on the 2004 Michigan Supreme Court campaign cannot be accounted for, three months after the election. Data collected by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from Michigan television broadcasters and cable system operators show two independent groups spon... read more

posted on 02/02/2005

Top PACs raise $30 million with more to come

LANSING – The top 150 state PACs have raised $29.6 million dollars this election cycle, as of October 20th. That is up by $6 million since the last reports in July. The same group of PACs had raised $23.9 million as of October in the 2002 election cycle, however, 18 of the committees are new this ... read more

posted on 10/29/2004

Stealth campaigning sullies Supreme Court campaign

LANSING – For the third consecutive election season, television ads that are not disclosed on any campaign finance report are a prominent feature of the Michigan Supreme Court campaign. Two independent groups – one supporting incumbent Justice Stephen J. Markman, and one opposing him – are run... read more

posted on 10/27/2004

Bush-Kerry TV ad race reaches $34 million

LANSING -- With just one week to go until Election Day, the presidential candidates, their parties and supporting groups have spent nearly $34 million for broadcast television advertising in Michigan. Sen. John Kerry and his supporters have outspent President Bush and his allies by 30 percent - $19.... read more

posted on 10/26/2004

Borrowing and independent expenditures fuel House campaigns

LANSING — Candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives had raised just over $10.7 million as of October 17th, the close-of-books date for pre-general reports for the November 2nd election. Of 256 candidates, 171 have raised money and 85 have filed for waivers indicating that they will not ... read more

posted on 10/24/2004

Main Street answers The Club

LANSING - The Republican Main Street Partnership has weighed into Michigan's 7th Congressional District Republican primary campaign with $57,200 in independent expenditures supporting former state Sen. Joe Schwarz of Battle Creek. The independent expenditures bought cable and broadcast television ad... read more

posted on 07/28/2004

Seat for sale?

LANSING – The pre-primary campaign finance reports for Michigan's 7th Congressional District primary election show a growing infusion of out-of-state contributions bundled by the Club for Growth PAC being funneled into the campaign of Brad Smith. As of July 14th, Club for Growth had provided Smith... read more

posted on 07/16/2004

"Millionaires' Amendment" in play in 7th District primary

LANSING -- The six candidates vying for the Republican nomination in Michigan's Seventh Congressional District have collectively raised over $2.6 million through June 30, 2004. Of that amount, contributions from individuals accounted for 60 percent, one-third came from the candidates in the form of ... read more

posted on 07/16/2004

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