MLive and MCFN Joint Investigation: Secretive Funds Allow Michigan Lawmakers To Accept Corporate Cash

At Least One In Every Three Michigan Lawmakers Is Connected Or Has Been Connected To A Fund That Can Accept Corporate Contributions. And Much Of The Giving Can Happen In Secret.

LANSING — Exactly 100 days after the state Senate signed off on millions of dollars in tax breaks for data centers, the company seeking the change gave $10,000 to an account that helps pay Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof's expenses.

It is illegal for a corporation to give directly to a candidate's campaign account in Michigan. But the $10,000 contribution from Switch, a Nevada-based company planning to open a data center in West Michigan, falls into a difficult-to-trace and rarely discussed form of legal fundraising where many donations don't have to be disclosed.

A joint investigation by MLive and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network found at least 50 of Michigan's 144 House and Senate members, about one in three, are connected or have been connected to a nonprofit or administrative account. From 2013 to 2015, about $12.8 million flowed to more than 100 accounts connected to political parties, elected officeholders and their consultants in Michigan, the investigation found.

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2016 News Press Release