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A new report shows 70% of the money spent on Michigan ballot questions last year came from non-profit groups that concealed their donors.

In November, voters approved measures legalizing recreational marijuana, a commission to redraw political districts and expanding voting access. State lawmakers approved two other petitions, raising the minimum wage and requiring earned sick leave, only to water down the laws later.

Craig Mauger is the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. He says supporters and opponents of a half-dozen ballot question campaigns spent nearly $46 million altogether during the 2018 election cycle.

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This is an expensive year to run for a seat in the Michigan state Senate.

Craig Mauger is the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. 

He says 10 of the 38 state Senate races have each cost more than $1 million.  The previous high was six in 2010

Mauger says a 2013 change to state election law is the likely reason for the spending increase.

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A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court this week will likely have little effect on campaign spending in this fall’s election in Michigan.

The high court denied a request on Tuesday by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, which sought to stay a lower court ruling forcing it to reveal its secret donors.   

Television remote control
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If the months leading up to Tuesday's primary election felt like a barrage of political ads, the following likely won't come as a surprise.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network says around $23.6 million in political ads aired on broadcast television ahead of the state's primary. 

 

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New campaign finance reports suggest this year’s governor’s race may end up being the most expensive in Michigan history.

The August primary will select the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian party nominees for governor. 

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Democrats are hoping for a “Blue Wave” in state legislative races in November. 

But Republicans are seeing a “green wave” of campaign donations.

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This year, TV ad spending is spiking early among candidates running for Michigan governor.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network reports $1.7 million has been spent on TV ads to promote candidates in Michigan’s governor’s race. 

The network’s Craig Mauger says most of that spending was by Democrat Shri Thanedar, who’s poured $1.2 million into TV campaign ads since the January 1.

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This year’s mid-term congressional elections could be the most expensive ever in Michigan.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network reports the 30 candidates running in Michigan’s 14 congressional districts raised $14.7 million as of the end of last year.   And the money keeps rolling in.

The network’s Craig Mauger says Democrats are benefiting from donors wanting to defeat Republicans and derail President Trump’s agenda.

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Republicans in Lansing hit the gas pedal to pass legislation that could greatly increase corporate and special interest spending on political campaigns. The legislation sailed through the Senate last week and cleared the House Tuesday.

Today, Governor Snyder signed that legislation into law.

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It’s been seven years since the U.S. Supreme Court said corporations and labor unions can spend as much money as they want on political campaigns.

The court left it up to states to decide whether it institute their own limits. And today the Michigan Senate officially said, “No thanks.”

It passed legislation that would basically codify what the court said in its controversial Citizens United opinion.

Michigan Capitol Building
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Michigan’s lobbyists have given $3.7 million to politicians at the state level since 2012.

That’s the total calculated by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Craig Mauger is its executive director. He says most of the money was given after an elected official took office, not during the campaign. And the highest amounts went to the people in the most powerful positions.

"These lobbyists are representing interests," Mauger says. "They are, in some cases, employees of a business. And they want to see it succeed just like the CEO wants to see it succeed.

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A new report finds many of Michigan’s state lawmakers have been penalized for not properly filing their campaign finance reports.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network scoured through state records and found fifty percent of current state lawmakers have paid fines for failing to follow Michigan’s campaign finance reporting requirements.

Executive Director Craig Mauger says most paid small amounts, while a few had to pay thousands of dollars.

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An ethics watchdog organization is asking the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate a Twitter battle that broke out between Michigan Congressman Justin Amash and White House staffer Dan Scavino. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the group's allegations that Amash violated House rules and Scavino violated the Hatch Act

They also discuss a study that shows an increasingly bleak future for Michigan roads and bridges, legislation that would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients, and a report that says roughly $40 million was spent on the state's 14 congressional races in 2016. 

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A new report finds roughly $40 million was spent on Michigan’s 14 Congressional races in 2016.  $9.4 million was spent in just one Michigan Congressional race, the battle for the formally vacant seat representing the U.P. and northern Michigan.

“That’s a large sum of money considering the fact that really none of these 14 Congressional races were that close in Michigan in 2016,” says Craig Mauger, the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.  

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A new report is raising questions about transparency in Michigan Supreme Court elections.

Craig Mauger is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. He says in 2016 so-called "dark money" helped the two Republican incumbents outspend their Democratic challengers by more than 30 to one.

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In 2016 alone, lobbyists provided Michigan lawmakers with $690,681 in food and drinks, according to a report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

A photograph of the Michigan Capitol building
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2016 may well go down as the Year of the Lobbyist in Michigan.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN) dug into the numbers and discovered spending on lobbying was higher in 2016 than any other year: lobbyists spent $39.99 million last year, which broke 2015's record  of $38.7 million.  

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Michigan’s top 150 Political Action Committees raised a record amount during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network crunched the numbers and found Michigan’s largest PAC’s raised more than $48 million in 2015 and 2016. That's an increase of seven million dollars over the previous record set in the 2008 presidential election.

Executive director Craig Mauger says that well outpaced the rate of inflation.

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A record amount of money was spent in 2016 on Michigan state House races.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network combed through spending reports and other sources to determine $27 million was spent on House campaigns last year.   The previous record was $25.4 million in 2014. 

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Money talks - and in 2016, it also wins elections. In 91% of state house races this year, the candidate with more money won. 

That's according to analysis by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Executive Director Craig Mauger compared the election results with financial reports.  

“In the other 8 races where the candidate...who had less money won, it was often very close.  Both candidates raised a lot of money,” says Mauger.

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Campaign spending on 15 pivotal state House seats tops $10 million, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. 

Democrats need to win nine state House seats currently held by Republicans to wrest control of the lower chamber in Lansing. And both sides are spending heavily.

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Democrats and Republicans are spending heavily on TV ad buys to sway voters in a handful of state house elections.

Democrats need to win 9 seats currently held by Republicans next month to take control of the state house.    

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s sagging poll numbers in Michigan may be behind a surprising rise in TV ad buys in one state congressional race.

Attorney General Bill Schuette
Bill Schuette

 

It's time for another political roundup with Ken Sikkema and Susan Demas​.

Attorney General Bill Schuette joined a lawsuit this week to try to block an overtime pay rule that came out of Washington.

It would require businesses to pay overtime to salary workers who earn less than $47,500 a year. That’s up from about $24,000.

According to Sikkema, “Any of these federal regulations that deal with pay, whether it’s minimum wage or whether it’s overtime pay, are going to be looked at skeptically by Republicans. [Schuette] is not the only one.”

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Spending by lobbyists at the state capitol is on pace to break last year’s record.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network reports lobbyists reported spending $21.7 million during the first seven months of 2016. During the same period last year, lobbyists spent $21 million.   

In all of 2015, lobbyists reported spending a record $38.7 million wooing Michigan lawmakers. 

According to Craig Mauger, Meijer was one of several entities that donated to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee on the day a senate panel began considering whether to block local plastic bag regulation.
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The first line of a release from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network reads:

"The same day a Senate panel began considering whether to block local efforts to curb the use of plastic bags, the Senate Republican Campaign Committee reported receiving a $20,000 contribution from the political action committee of one of Michigan's largest retailers."

According to MCFN executive director Craig Mauger, that retailer is Meijer. 

Courtesy of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network

It looks like dark money groups were hard at work trying to influence your vote during last week’s primary – particularly targeting Republicans running for the State House.

Craig Mauger heads up the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

“This was an effort, a well-orchestrated effort, to keep extremely conservative candidates out of the House GOP caucus,” Mauger told us.

He sat down with us today to talk about what role these secret donors play, and why they’re so hard to identify.

The former Carstens Elementary School building, on Detroit's east side, is one of many, many schools that have been shuttered in Detroit.
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The Detroit Public Schools needs a financial lifeline from Lansing to keep going beyond this school year.

But efforts to get that done in the state Legislature have largely been hijacked by big donors with different views on a separate but related issue: oversight of the city’s charter schools.

At least, that’s the conclusion of a report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

WDET

New numbers show Democrats outspending Republicans on TV ads in Michigan leading up to the March 8 presidential primary.

Next Tuesday’s primary could play a major role in deciding who stays in the race and whose time is up. 

Craig Mauger is with the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.  

He says before Super Tuesday, Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had spent more than $2 million on TV ads in Michigan. The Republicans spent less than $200,000 dollars.

But that’s changing.  

$100 bill
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A non-profit watchdog group says the person who signed a new law doubling campaign contributions was the one who ended up benefiting the most.

In December, 2013, Governor Rick Snyder signed a law that doubles the amount an individual can donate to a statewide election from $3,400 to $6,800.  The law also doubles the amount a political action committee can donate from $34,000 to $68,000.

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