Top Michigan Political Action Committees Setting New Fundraising Records

Michigan’s top 150 political action committees (PACs) have set new fundraising records for the 2005-2006 election cycle, with the PACs already raising nearly 23% more than at this point in the 2003-2004 cycle and nearly 36% more than in the 2001-2002 election cycle.

According to data compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN), Michigan’s top 150 political action committees (PACs) are setting new fundraising records in the 2005-2006 election cycle. Through April, the top 150 PACs in Michigan have raised $22,943,869, a figure that is 22.8% higher than at this point in the 2003-2004 election cycle and 35.5% higher than the $16.9 million raised at this point in the 2001-2002 election cycle. Rich Robinson of the MCFN said that “Interest groups are investing more than ever before to move the political process in Lansing” and emphasized the fact that “Citizens should not be deluded into thinking they’re doing it for selfless reasons” in a press release accompanying the data.

The legislative caucuses’ PACs are the top fundraisers, despite the fact that they are the only state PACs subject to contribution limits ($20,000 per year). Not surprisingly, Republican caucuses have raised the most, with House Republicans raising $2.2 million and Senate Republicans raising $1.6 million. Michigan’s Democrats have raised $1.5 million in the House and $871,000 in the Senate. Interestingly, the Commonwealth PAC, a PAC setup to boost the presidential prospects of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, has raised $350,000, making it the second-ranking officeholders’ leadership PAC behind the $483,000 raised by Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Leadership Fund. Aside from party interests, corporations and interest groups have also increased their PAC contributions. Comcast has contributed $106,000 to its PAC this election cycle to win favorable legislation affecting broadband market share after working last year with phone companies, the Telecommunications Association, and the Cable Telecommunications Association to deregulate Michigan’s telecomm industry last year. Other corporate contributors include DTE Energy, Comerica, AT&T Michigan, Consumers Energy, and DaimlerChrysler. A variety of interest groups also make significant monetary contributions to the political process including the Michigan Education Association, the Michigan Association of Realtors, the United Auto Workers, Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers, and the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association.

The increasing amounts of money entering the political process in Michigan are of particular concern given that there are few limits on PAC contributions, thereby increasing the likelihood that corporations, interest groups, and in some cases individuals, will be able to trump the public interest. Already, Dick DeVos’ gubernatorial campaign has made use of some $2.1 million to buy television advertising, nearly matching the $2.3 million that had been spent on ads in Michigan at this point in the 2004 presidential campaign by President George W. Bush. DeVos’ spending likely has contributed to the slight lead DeVos has over Governor Granholm in recent polls and shows the influence that money can have on an election.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media //