The ‘Money Poll’ in Michigan’s 80th District House Race

Mary Whiteford - the Establishment's Revenge for Proposal 1's Defeat?

More campaign finance reports are trickling in to the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections and it is clear that an avalanche of money from establishment Republicans is backing Mary Whiteford in the State House of Representatives 80th District special election. You have to dig a little to figure out just how much money and from where, but most of the evidence is available. Let’s call this the ‘money poll’.

Mary Whiteford Image 2Ms. Whiteford’s official committee (BoE 516401) has collected $ 28,200, plus another $ 2,807.96 of in kind contributions (actually expenditures) by the candidate herself. Great Lakes Education Project, an IRS 527 political action committee, has been furiously mailing cards supporting Mary Whiteford and trashing Cindy Gamrat. – $ 15,477 worth. So a total of $ 46,484.96. Another group, Michigan’s Voice (LARA 71630M), has made at least one mailing on Mary Whiteford’s behalf, but little is known about this recently incorporated (10/26/15) group and they have made no filings with the SoS BoE. By law they have 10 days to file, so we probably won’t know anything further about their efforts until after the primary. A well targeted mailing in the 80th costs around $ 4,000, so the Michigan’s Voice effort elevates Ms. Whiteford’s total funding in this special primary above $ 50,000.

Only 26 of Ms. Whiteford’s contributions – $ 6,300 – came from within the 80th District (excluding the candidate’s own contributions), far less than the 200 plus contributions that came to her from within the District in her first election attempt last year. This year, 85% plus of her funding is coming from establishment Republicans from outside the 80th.

James Storey‘s official committee (BoE 500244) has collected $ 22,415, plus another $ 383.20 of in kind contributions (actually expenditures). Couldn’t find any PAC’s making in kind contributions to him, so a total of $ 22,798.20. Thirty-six of his contributions – $ 16,360 – came from within the 80th District (excluding the candidate’s own contributions). A respectable 70% plus of his funding is coming from within the 80th.

Cindy Gamrat’s official committee (BoE 516453) has collected $ 3,457.05, plus another $ 904.81 of in kind contributions (actually expenditures). Couldn’t find any PAC’s making in kind contributions to her, so a total of $ 4,361.86. Four of her contributions – $ 131 – came from within the 80th District (excluding the candidate’s own contributions).

Richard DeVos ImageGreat Lakes Education Project (BoE 510264) is a Richard DeVos funded political action committee ostensibly focused on education issues, but appears to have a much broader agenda. They have actively opposed Republicans of the Tea Party persuasion, sliming them with homophobe and racism allegations in the 2014 primary. GLEP is a strong supporter of Common Core standards for schools, but Mary Whiteford says she is a Common Core opponent. A third of her known campaign funding is coming from a Common Core supporter.

Michigan’s Voice appears to be a Richard McLellan / Eric Doster effort, but they are certainly fronting for someone else. Mary Doster just happens to be the Treasurer of GLEP, so Michigan’s Voice has a clear connection to GLEP.Mystery Money Mary Doster also happened to be the Treasurer of the now dissolved Safe Roads Yes! (BoE 517218) committee which spent lavishly to promote Proposal 2015-01 earlier this year. Michigan’s Voices uses the same address as Safe Roads Yes!, as well. Ms. Whiteford claims she opposed Proposal 1, but 10% of her campaign funding is coming from a covert organization arising from the ashes of Safe Roads Yes!.

Senate Majority Leader Arlen Meekhof also has his hand in this race. Senator Meekhof bears a grudge against James Story, who ran the campaign of Brett Vander Kamp, Meekhof’s 2010 primary opponent.  Senator Meekhof’s Moving Michigan Forward Fund II PAC (BoE 516287) pumped $ 10,000 into the Michigan Freedom Network PAC (BoE 516317) on 07 October. Michigan Freedom Network is another PAC whose Treasurer just happens to be Mary Doster, although it uses a different address. Interestingly, it has no registration on file with Michigan LARA, unusual for a legitimate PAC. Meekhof’s MMFF2 contribution appears to be a partial ‘backfill’ for $ 24,000 that MFN gave to GLEP on 29 September, and $ 32,000 of polling they contracted out to Public Opinion Strategies. Has to be the campaign against Courser and Gamrat. Can you think of any other state level issues which arose just before 29 September?

Carefully consider that Mary Whiteford still has $ 76,000 in outstanding campaign debt and her current campaign money is coming from Common Core and Proposal 1 supporters. Who is going to pay off that debt?  And why?  Only the obtuse miss these connections and their implications. Allegan County is about to be colonized by Michigan’s Republican establishment.

You Betcha! (19)Nuh Uh.(1)

  2 comments for “The ‘Money Poll’ in Michigan’s 80th District House Race

  1. JD
    November 2, 2015 at 3:05 am

    Thank you for taking the time to give us the (always required) 'follow the money' background on this race.
    Most establishment candidates are pretty easy to figure out when you do the research that you've done...yet somebody has do the research.
    Never been a fan of Gamrat or for that matter Upton's old West Michigan (false) nemesis Hoogendyke ('conservative' west Michigan is a myth/always has been) yet the alternatives are obviously worse.

    No group should be allowed by law to file that late in a primary to avoid disclosure...yet that's our fault.
    Until these primary candidates feel that voters have a social media resource which (collectively) keeps track of what they say/vote on in an organized fashion and which holds/demands recorded public debates/town halls?...we will continue to see outside money easily influence slam dunk races such as this one in Allegan.

    It's too bad that young people can't even go to a place on social media where they have nothing but quotes, votes, appearances and debates (from both sides).

    You Betcha! (1)Nuh Uh.(0)

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