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

Majorities of Both Republicans And Democrats Who Responded To MCFN Questions Say Lawmakers Should File Financial Disclosures, Lobbyists Should Report Spending From The First Dollar

LANSING — 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 running in competitive races.

Of the 225 who received the questionnaires, 60 responded. That’s a response rate of about 26.6 percent. The responses came from candidates from both parties: 35 Democrats responded; 25 Republicans responded. All of their answers are posted here. A list of those who failed to reply is available here.

Large majorities of the respondents said lawmakers should have to file personal financial disclosures, lobbyists should have to disclose their spending from the first dollar and donors behind so-called “issue ads” should have to be released.

“Issue ads” are a type of political advertising that doesn’t directly tell voters to support or a oppose a specific candidate on Election Day, which would trigger campaign finance disclosure requirements. “Issue ads” allegedly seek only to educate voters about issues, an act that doesn’t require disclosure in Michigan. Often, however, the ads simply seek to influence elections by praising or criticizing candidates while protecting the names of their financial backers.

Of the 60 candidates surveyed, 56 said “issue ad” donors should be disclosed while four said they shouldn’t. Of the 35 Democrats, 33 said the donors should be disclosed. Of the 25 Republicans, 23 said the donors should be disclosed.

Below are the compiled results of the 60 surveys MCFN had received as of July 28. MCFN will continue to accept survey responses from candidates who received them.

1. Do you believe the role money is playing in our state’s political system is a problem that deserves legislative attention?  

56 respondents said YES.

2 respondents said NO.

2 respondents didn’t answer directly.

2. Do you believe donors paying for so-called “issue ads” that don’t expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate should have to be disclosed?

56 respondents said YES.

4 respondents said NO.



3. Do you believe Michigan lawmakers should have to file personal financial disclosures to combat potential conflicts of interest as lawmakers do in 47 other states?

58 respondents said YES.

1 respondent said NO.

1 respondent didn’t answer directly.


4. “Super PACs” can take unlimited contributions but are supposed to act independently of the candidates they support. Should state candidates be able to participate in fundraisers for “Super PACs” that support them?

7 respondents said YES.

51 respondents said NO.

2 respondents didn’t answer directly.


5. Should lobbyists have to disclose all their spending for food and beverage hospitality for state lawmakers and administrative officials and identify the beneficiaries of that hospitality from the first $1 they spend? (NOTE: Currently, there are reporting thresholds. For instance, a lobbyist has to spend more than $58 in a month on food or drinks for a specific lawmaker before it has to be disclosed)

58 respondents said YES.

2 respondents said NO.


6.  Currently, lobbyists can buy gifts for state lawmakers valued at less than $58. Should lobbyists be able to purchase gifts for state officials?

3 respondents said YES.

54 respondents said NO.

3 respondents didn’t answer directly.


7. Do you believe all donations to candidates should be disclosed and reported in advance of election dates?          

57 respondents said YES.

2 respondents said NO.

1 respondent didn’t answer directly.


8. Do you agree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling?

11 respondents said YES.

42 respondents said NO.

7 respondents didn’t answer directly.


9. If you are elected and start a nonprofit to help pay officeholder-related expenses, support political advocacy or to make charitable contributions, will you disclose your donors?

58 respondents said YES.

2 respondents said NO.

Press Release 2016 News Dark Money Super Pacs Pacs Fundraising

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