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 the same point in the 2010 election cycle, when the top 150 PACs had raised $19.8 million.
PAC fundraising this cycle is up by 1.6 percent compared to 2008, when the top 150 raised $21.8 million. This year’s total trails the mark set in Michigan’s record-setting 2006 election, when the top 150 PACs had raised $23.2 million by this point in the cycle.
Data were compiled by the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network from reports filed last week with the Michigan Department of State.
The House Republican Campaign Committee and the House Democratic Fund have raised the most of all PACs so far this cycle. The House Republicans have raised $1,567,831 and they have $1,004,449 on hand. The House Democrats have raised $1,199,490 and they have $674,817 on hand. Both committees are debt free from last cycle.
The Senate Republican Campaign Committee has raised third most at $1,075,419 but its fund balance is only $76,336. Senate Democrats rank 10th on the list. They have raised $450,427 and have $276,472 on hand. Both Senate caucus PACs are debt free as they prepare for the 2014 elections.
Occupying positions 4 through 8 are: The Michigan Education Association PAC: $947,386; Blue Cross / Blue Shield PAC: $751,292; Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters PAC: $574,998; Michigan Association for Justice PAC: $507,137; and the Michigan Association of Realtors PAC: $472,171.
Business Leaders for Michigan PAC II ranks 9th overall, and highest among committees taking corporate contributions, with $466,000. The next leading SuperPAC is the the California-based ‘education choice’ supporter, Parents and Teachers for Putting Students First - 30th with $210,000. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce PAC III ranks 3rd among SuperPACs and 36th overall with $154,406 raised.
PACs that raise corporate contributions are allowed to make independent expenditures but they are not allowed to make contributions to candidate committees.
The Michigan Chamber PAC III was heavily involved against the recall of former Rep. Paul Scott and the subsequent election of his successor, Rep. Joseph Graves. The MEA-backed Citizens Against Government Overreach, 29th with $217,681, drove the campaign to recall Scott.
Leadership PACs are a mix of the expected and the unexpected so far this cycle. House Speaker Jase Bolger has the top leadership PAC so far, ranking 14th overall with $386,973 raised. Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville has the second biggest fundraising total among the politicians with $322,327, good for 16th overall.
Former Rep. Michael Sak of Grand Rapids has the third biggest fundraising total among leadership PACs with $249,775, holding the 22nd spot overall. Sak amassed his total by giving up funds from his old candidate committee.
The fourth biggest leadership PAC is that of Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. He had the largest leadership PAC last cycle. This cycle he has raised $135,296, but only $1,000 since last October’s report. His administration has been racked by criminal investigations and charges against former staffers.
Gov. Rick Snyder’s One Tough Nerd PAC ranks 148th overall, at $30,175.
Last week’s PAC reports were the first ones filed by most PACs since last October, six months ago.
“The frequency of state PAC reporting is abysmal,” said Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “We should not have to wait six months to see who is raising money from whom. The legislature and the Governor need to get a better standard of campaign finance accountability written into law. This isn’t rocket science.”