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.

Data were compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from the public files of state broadcasters and cable systems. Those records were augmented by estimates from the Campaign Media Analysis Group in cases where broadcasters are electing to withhold records of "issue" advertisements about state candidates.

U.S. Senate

Republican nominee Terri Land has spent $1.68 million through June 30th. Meanwhile independent spenders have spent $6.3 million for advertisements criticizing her Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters. The independent groups arrayed against Mr. Peters include:

• Americans for Prosperity: $4,347,742 - AFP is a 501(c)(4) corporation associated with Charles and David Koch.

• Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce: $576,516 - Freedom Partners is a 501(c)(6) corporation that is associated with the Koch brothers' political fundraising gatherings. It is a source of funding for Americans for Prosperity and a group of other political 501(c)(4) corporations.

• U.S. Chamber of Commerce: $522,174 - The U.S. Chamber is a 501(c)(6) corporation and a recognized national business association.

• Ending Spending, Inc.: $465,109 - Ending Spending, Inc. is a 501(c)(4) corporation that is led by Joe Ricketts, who founded TD Ameritrade, and Todd Ricketts. Joe Ricketts was a frequent on-stage presence with Rick Santorum's 2012 presidential campaign.

• Ending Spending Action Fund: $353,784 - Ending Spending Action Fund is a federal SuperPAC that is also associated with the Ricketts family.

Ending Spending Action Fund is the only spender in this group that discloses its donors.

Democratic nominee Gary Peters has spent $1.23 million for television advertising so far. Three committees have combined to spend another $3.27 million for advertisements critical of his opponent, Ms. Land. Those groups are:

• Senate Majority PAC: $2,010,969 - Senate Majority PAC is a federal SuperPAC under the control of U.S. Senate Democrats.

• AFSCME PEOPLE: $958,750 - AFSCME PEOPLE is the federal PAC of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

• SEIU COPE: $299,840 - SEIU COPE is the federal PAC of the Service Employees International Union.

All three of the groups opposing Ms. Land disclose their donors.


Incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has spent $1 million for television advertising this year, through June 30th. His spending has been supplemented by $1.5 million in spending by the Republican Governors Association. The RGA is a 527 organization that files reports of its receipts and expenditures with the Internal Revenue Service.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer has yet to sponsor a television advertisement. The Democratic Governors Association has spent $2.9 million, through June 30th. It also has advertising running through July 15th in the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Flint/Saginaw media markets. Like the RGA, the DGA is a 527 organization that reports its financial activity to the IRS.

Notable Congressional Advertising

In the 3rd Congressional District, Republican Brian Ellis has spent $453,000 for television in his primary challenge to incumbent U.S. Rep. Justin Amash. Mr. Amash has not done any television advertising so far. The Club for Growth spent $98,000 for advertisements critical of Mr. Ellis back in January.

In the 4th Congressional District, Paul Mitchell has spent $543,368, through July 4th, in his open seat Republican primary against state Sen. John Moolenaar. Mr. Mitchell's spending has been divided over three media markets: Flint/Saginaw: $268,524; Traverse City: $183,716; and Lansing: $91,128. Sen. Moolenaar has not done any television advertising, so far.

In the 11th Congressional District, Republican David Trott has spent $826,506 through July 4th for TV in his primary challenge against incumbent U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio. Mr. Bentivolio has done no television advertising. Freedom's Defense Fund, a federal PAC, has spent $28,000 for TV ads opposing Mr. Trott.

Press Release 2014 News