Dark Money

Cronyism is alive and well.

Clearly there are people with financial stake in certain players gaining the governor’s seat.  Some interests might be as innocuous as self preservation, and some may be to game the system.  But it’s all in play and the hidden stuff can be spooky.  From Crains this morning:

Three of the leading candidates to be Michigan’s next chief executive have benefited from large sums of cash that can’t be easily followed to their original sources because of federal laws allowing not-for-profit organizations to influence elections outside of the state’s campaign finance law.

Former state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor has been aided by $550,000 in concealed donations from two entities that don’t appear to exist in public records.

Attorney General Bill Schuette’s bid for the Republican nomination in next Tuesday’s primary also has been boosted by $1.2 million in untraceable donations flowing from two so-called “dark money” front organizations that can legally conceal the identities of their donors.

And Lt. Gov. Brian Calley got $1.3 million of free advertising through a TV commercial promoting his work with Gov. Rick Snyder turning around Michigan’s economy that was paid for by a Snyder-led group that doesn’t have to disclose its funding sources.

The last guy listed here knows who is footing the bill for his spots I imagine.

He stars in those ads.

In any event, Blue Cross Blue Shield was let off its leash in 2013 walking away with Michigan taxpayer money and made untouchable.  It’s relationship with those who would restore much of its monopoly power should be noted.  However they are not squealing:

Those donations to the pro-Whitmer group have fueled questions from her Democratic opponents as to whether those mystery entities are operating for the sole purpose of concealing corporate money from a big business like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which has allied with Whitmer but not made a traceable donation to her bid to be governor.

“Build a Better Michigan is nothing but a shell for dark money PACs and unlimited money from corporate CEOs who have interest in a Whitmer-led Michigan,” said Adam Joseph, spokesman for El-Sayed. “There is only one reason these corporations and secretive groups are shelling out thousands of dollars to try and get Gretchen Whitmer elected: they want to keep their privilege in a Whitmer administration.”

But whether Blue Cross Blue Shield played any role in helping bankroll the pro-Whitmer group Build a Better Michigan is a lingering question the state’s largest health insurance company won’t answer.

Of course BCBS won’t answer.

Being un-collared, (Former AG Mike Cox was their best handler to be honest)  they don’t have to.  Once upon a time they were beholden to the legislature, but now run free-range and can bundle money where it serves their board of director’s interest best.  Anyhow they have been feeding the GOP as well.

Playing the field is not a hard thing to do when flush with unequaled cash reserves.  BCBSmi DID walk away with $Billions given to them by a GOP legislature and governor.

As for the complainer Abdul?  I suspect there is plenty of dark cash ready to fund his efforts.

The swamp is alive and well friends.  Read the complete piece.

 

You Betcha! (8)Nuh Uh.(0)

Primary Recommendations for Michigan State House

Every seat in the Michigan state house is up for election in 2018, and many seats are open due to term limits.  The house has been run by its more conservative wing for the past four years.  Continuing this trend will depend on conservatives winning primaries in August.  Here are my recommendations for who to support in Republican primaries.  Some races are hard evaluate, so additional information from readers is welcome.

Recommended candidates are in bold.

36. Strangely, none of the three major candidates here have an issue page.  However, Dr. Karen Potchynok-Lund, wife of conservative former rep Pete Lund, is solely endorsed by Right to Life.
38. Moderate incumbent Kathy Crawford has voted to increase gas taxes, support hollywood subsidies and FoxConn subsidies, against electric choice, against an income tax cut, against constitutional carry, against cutting auto insurance rates, and against reforming civil asset forfeiture.  Chase Turner is running on a conservative platform and is endorsed by Pat Colbeck.
39. Assistant prosecutor Marsha Kosmatka is running on a conservative platform and is solely endorsed by Right to Life and Citizens for Traditional Values.  Ryan Berman and Kevin Tatulyan also have decent platforms.
40. Lawyer/businessman David Wolkinson has a fairly conservative platform.  CPA Paul Taros is a Tea Party activist who may not be the best fit for a moderate district. Mike Banerian and Malissa Bossardet have fairly generic platforms.  Joe Zane has made many democrat donations.
41. Oakland County Commissioner Doug Tietz is a good conservative who was campaign manager for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative in 2006.
43. Independence Township Trustee Jose Aliaga is a solid conservative who has an Aq rating from the NRA, while his opponents both got C from the NRA.
44. Businessman Matt Maddock is a conservative leader in Oakland County.  He is solely endorsed by Right to Life.
51. Mike Mueller is the establishment favorite, but his positions are unimpressive.  County commissioner Drew Shaprio has a history of run-ins with the police and no issues page on his website.  Trump delegate Ian Shetron has a conservative platform.
63. Moderate incumbent David Maturen is pro-abortion, has a D rating from the NRA, and voted for gas tax increases and against income tax cuts.  He is being challenged by conservative activist Matt Hall (a third candidate dropped out).
65. Jackson County Commissioner Sarah Lightner is solely endorsed by Right to Life and has an Aq rating from NRA.
71. County Commissioner Christine Barnes seems to be more conservative than businessman Chuck Cascarilla, but the difference isn’t huge.
72. State rep. Steven Johnson has been one of the best conservatives in the house since his election in 2016.  He is endorsed by Right to Life, NRA, Pat Colbeck, and Bob Genetski.  He is being challenged by moderate Jennifer Antel.
73. Most establishment support has gone to Lynn Afendoulis, cousin of the moderate incumbent.  A better choice is Robert Regan, who is endorsed by the NRA, state senator Pat Colbeck, and state reps Dave Agema and Steve Johnson.
77. State rep Tommy Brann has been an average conservative in office.  He is being challenged by Daniel Oesch.
78. Niles city councilman David Mann is running on a conservative platform and is solely endorsed by Right to Life and conservative state rep Steve Johnson.
79. The candidate websites don’t show a clear distinction.  Pauline Wendzel is endorsed by local conservative activist David Yardley.
81. Kenneth Nicholl and Eric Stocker have raised the most, but have generic platforms.  Joel Williams and Gary Eisen have more conservative platforms.
84. There doesn’t seem to be a clear distinction between county commissioner Matthew Bierlein, Phil Green, son of conservative state senator Mike Green, and businessman Dean Smith.
88. Luke Meerman is solely endorsed by Right to Life, as well as by conservative former state rep. Tom Hooker.
90. Ottawa County Treasurer Bradley Slagh has most establishment support and is solely endorsed by Right to Life.  Orlando Estrada is a conservative alternative.
91. Greg VanWoerkem, a staffer for Bill Huizenga, has most establishment support and is solely endorsed by Right to Life.  However, former county commissioner Alan Jager has a higher NRA rating.
93. County Commissioner Anne Hill is running on a solidly conservative platform.
94. Saginaw Township Treasurer Steven Gerhardt is solely endorsed by Right to Life and is the most conservative candidate.
98. Annette Glenn is the wife of staunch conservative state rep. Gary Glenn.  She is solely endorsed by Right to Life and seems to be the only candidate running a serious campaign.
101. Radio host Jack O’Malley seems to be running the most serious campaign.  Carolyn Cater is runnning as a more conservative alternative.
102. State rep. Michelle Hoitenga has been one of the best conservatives in the house since her election in 2016.  She is being challenged from the left by William Barnett.
107. State rep. Lee Chatfield is a solid conservative who is in line to be the next Republican leader in the house.  He faces an unserious primary opponent.
110. Doctor and school board member Kirk Schott is solely endorsed by Right to Life and seems to be running the most serious campaign.

You Betcha! (5)Nuh Uh.(0)

The Devil is DEFINITELY in the details.

Multiple news outlets have reported that the Michigan Supreme Court in a 4-3 decision upheld the democratic party “independent/grassroots” Voters Not Politicians petition initiative to create a non-partisan commission to redraw every voting district in Michigan.

In writing for the majority Justices Viviano, McCormack, Bernstein & Clement said;

“Here, that approach leads us to conclude that a voter-initiated amendment under Const 1963, art 12, § 2 is permissible if it does not significantly alter or abolish the form or structure of our government, making it tantamount to creating a new constitution.”

Yeah that’s sounds great on paper, but exactly how did they intend on accomplishing this nigh impossible feat?

{Well, I’ll go into that more after the fold}

You Betcha! (13)Nuh Uh.(3)

Michigan State House Primary Preview

All 110 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives will be up for election in November. Republicans won a 63-47 majority in 2016, the same margin as in 2014. There are 42 open seats, 25 held by Republicans and 17 held by democrats. There are 23 open due to term-limits, 18 just due to seeking another office, and 1 pure retirement.

The last two cycles have seen contests between moderate and conservative factions in the house GOP, won by the conservatives narrowly in 2014 and more decisively in 2016.  This time, the house GOP candidate recruitment is solidly in the hands of conservatives, and conservative Lee Chatfield is the presumptive next house GOP leader.  There are still likely to be some ideological battles, particularly in districts vacated by moderate incumbents.



The following lists district number, current incumbent, geographic description, 2012, 2014, and 2016 state house results, 2012 Romney %, 2016 Trump % (if known), and political rating.  Candidates who filed a reporting waiver, indicating that they will not raise more than $1000 (and hence are not serious) are typically omitted.  The complete candidate list is available here:

http://miboecfr.nictusa.com/election/candlist/2018PRI_CANDLIST.html

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July 2018 Michigan State House Fundraising

July 27 was the deadline for campaign finance reports for Michigan legislature.  Here are summaries of the total amount raised in competitive Michigan state house districts.  Totals include in-kind contributions, and for Republicans, late contributions.  Candidates who filed reporting waivers are generally omitted.

2. (D) Tate 40K, Tinsley-Smith 16K, Bell 4K
4. (D) Razo 58K, Oberholtzer 48K, Friedrichs 38K, Nolish 26K, Almasmari 18K, Rob 7K, Jones 5K, Little 2K
5. (D) Johnson 23K, Payne 9K
6. (D) Edevbie 89K, Defoe 53K, Choske 36K, White 35K, Wilson 25K, Carter 24K, Magdeleno 7K, Humphries 3K
9. (D) Whitsett 21K, Stuckey 6K
11. (D) Walker 31K, Jones 29K
12. (D) Garza 42K, Taylor 6K
16. (D) B. Johnson 75K, McDermott 35K, Coleman 14K
17. (R) Bellino 120K, (D) LaVoy 34K
19. (R) Meakin 33K (D) Centers 69K, Pohutski 13K
20. (R) Noble 71K (D) Koleszar 46K
23. (R) Frazier 2K (D) Camilleri 178K
25. (R) Early 3K (D) Shannon 19K
28. (D) Green 49K, Stone 3K
29. (D) Carter 23K, Jackson 13K, Payton 11K
30. (R) Farrington 90K (D) Naoum 66K
35. (D) Reiter 68K, Bolden 37K, Gregory 22K, Meyers 7K
36. (R) Czasak 24K, Lund 57K, Wozniak 19K
38. (R) Crawford 53K, Turner 14K
(D) Bagchi 41K, Breen 16K, Petrillo 5K
39. (R) Berman 38K, Hoyt 4K, Kosmatka 68K, Tatulyan 18K (D) Suidan 30K
40. (R) Banerian 42K, Bossardet 48K, Secrest 6K, Taros 59K, Wolkinson 69K, Zane 37K
(D) Manoogian 92K, Bedi 67K

You Betcha! (3)Nuh Uh.(0)

John James Campaign Resorts to Outright Lying in Final Days of Senate Race

It was previously demonstrated how the John James for Senate campaign had been taking his competitor Sandy Pensler out of content for the purposes of releasing misleading attacks about him. While that was bad enough, James has resorted to outright lying in the final days of the campaign as he tries to win in what looks to be a close race.

This meme was posted on John James’ campaign page a day following Pensler’s announcement that he received an endorsement from tea party favorite Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has one of the top conservative voting records in the Senate according to many popular conservative watchdog organizations.

“I’m pleased to endorse Sandy Pensler for U.S. Senate in Michigan. The Senate needs more outsiders who have created jobs and who won’t be part of the Washington, D.C. swamp. Sandy supports term limits, smaller government, lower taxes, and a constitutional conservative foreign policy, and he will stand up and fight in Washington,” Paul said.

Pensler’s understanding of market economics also prompted him to release a plan to end the deficit by making specific cuts to foreign aid, the department of education, domestic welfare, healthcare expenditures, and subsidies toward NATO. Will Pensler be able to implement this plan as soon as he is elected? Of course not, but he will be able to coherently articulate a solid fiscally conservative plan that can put America once again on solid ground.

Pensler’s issues page offers a great deal of substance. He wants to defund planned parenthood, supports judges “who interpret the law as written,” and supports free market solutions on healthcare. Some of his policy positions are more detailed than others. His healthcare page for instance is particularly substantative covering issues like price transparency, malpractice reform, competitive pricing for prescription drugs, health savings plans, living wills, and so on. He shows an incredible depth of knowledge on the pressing issues facing Americans, something that is very rare in a politician.

What does John James have to say about healthcare? The position on his official campaign website is as follows:

Image result for tumbleweed

That’s right. Healthcare isn’t even listed as an issue of concern on his page! Not even a basic, rudimentary policy position is listed. On the issues James does cover, he remains deliberately vague as much as possible. James thinks we should do a “better job preparing our service members for life outside of the military.” That is certainly a nice platitude, and it’s hard to disagree with that, but how precisely are you going to make that happen?

James says he “will work to eliminate poverty, not just make it more comfortable.” No further explanation is given. James believes that “hard working and honest Michiganders of all generations are owed a return on their lifelong investment into the System.” That sounds like it was written by a public relations consultant contracted by the MEDC, rather than an authentic sentiment. James claims he “will approve justices who will interpret the constitution as written” so he has the exact same position as Pensler in that regard.

The fact that James had to resort to outright lies in the end game of the campaign suggests that voters may be seeing that one candidate offers actual substance while the other offers nothing but fluff. Pensler’s candid comments on Trump, portrayed by the James campaign as Pensler slamming Trump, were actually complementary in their full context. Pensler’s comments about supporting a “living constitution” were in reference to the Convention of States, a project pushed by constitutional conservatives to amend the Constitution in an attempt to reign in the federal government. These misleading attacks missed the mark, so James had to push deliberate falsehoods in the final stretch. If James’ campaign is this dishonest, how can you trust the candidate when he talks to you on the campaign trail?

James is certainly offering his brand ‘Hope and Change’ to the voters without much in terms of specifics. I remember in the not too distant past when voters elected a similar candidate who promised the world without demonstrating any qualifications, competency or a real record. America really regretted that decision, and we should not duplicate that mistake here in Michigan. Pensler’s record is far from spotless, having ran as a moderate Republican back in the 1990s before ‘evolving’ and becoming more conservative over the years. But at least he has a record, other than bumper sticker slogans and corny taglines about being a fighter pilot.

We can be better than the Democrats, can’t we? Support the qualified candidate a week from today, not the empty suit.

You Betcha! (6)Nuh Uh.(6)

Michigan State Senate Primary Preview

All 38 seats in the Michigan Senate are up for election in 2014.  Republicans currently have a 27-11 supermajority, and have controlled the senate since 1983.

For the past few years, the state senate has been more moderate than the state house.  This cycle, there are several ideologically split Republican primaries that will determine how conservative the state senate will be next year. These will be in districts 12, 21, 24, 26, 30, 31, 34, and 35.

1. [Detroit riverfront, Downriver] Safe democrat
SS 2014: 28-72 McCain: 22.0 Romney: 21.5 Trump: XX
Incumbent: Coleman Young (D term-limited)
This is one of five black-majority districts based in Detroit.  Young, who lost badly in his bid for Detroit Mayor, is now running for Congress.  State reps Stephanie Chang (14-P), Bettie Cook Scott (06-10, 16-18), and Alberta Tinsley-Talabi (10-16) are running for the D nomination, along with James Cole, Nicholas Rivera, and Stephanie Roehm.  Chang is a progressive favorite, but is opposed by Detroit Mayor Duggan and could struggle is a heavily black district. Pauline Monte is the R candidate.

2. [NE Detroit, Grosse Pointes] Safe democrat
SS 2014: 25-71 McCain: 20.1 Romney: 19.3 Trump: XX
Incumbent:  Bert Johnson (D term-limited)
One of five black-majority districts based in Detroit.  Johnson pled guilty to theft (hiring a fake employee to pay a debt).  There will be a special election at the same time as the general election.  Incredibly, eleven Ds are running.  Leading the pack is eight-time felon and disgraced former rep Brian Banks (12-17), who resigned in a plea bargain.  Former rep George Cushingberry Jr. (74-82, 04-10) is running after losing his seat on the Detroit city council due to scandal.  Former rep John Olumba (10-14) is running as a D after becoming an independent in 2013.  Former state rep Lamar Lemmons (99-06) is running.  Adam Hollier, Johnson’s former chief of staff, has received many endorsements as a (presumably) saner alternative to the other candidates.  Hamtramck city commissioner Abraham Aiyash has fundraised well in the Muslim community. Tommy Campbell, Lawrence Gannon, Anam Miah, William Phillips, and Regina Williams are also running.  Rs John Hauler and Lisa Papas are running.

You Betcha! (5)Nuh Uh.(1)

July 2018 Michigan State Senate Fundraising

July 27 was the deadline for campaign finance reports for Michigan legislature.  Here are summaries of the total amount raised in Michigan state senate districts.  Totals include in-kind and late contributions.

1. (D) Chang 147K Scott XX Talabi 10K
2. (D) Banks 157K Hollier 121K Aiyash 106K Miah 10K Gannon 9K Cushingberry 8K Lemmons waiver Olumba waiver
3. (D) Santana 113K Woronchak 117K
4. (D) Bullock 56K Durhal 100K
5. (D) Knezek 253K
6. (D) Kosowski 107K Geiss 74K
7. (R) Cox 162K (D) Qadir 117K Polehanki 69K
8. (R) Lucido 147K Goike 41K
9. (D) Wojno 169K
10. (R) Shallal 47K MacDonald 21K (D) Yanez 126K
11. (D) J. Moss 90K
12. (R) Tedder 165K McCready 138K (D) Bayer 68K
13. (R) Knollenberg 252K (D) McMorrow 161K
14. (R) Johnson 56K
15. (R) Runestad 212K (D) Pulver 53K
16. (R) Shirkey 180K Dame 24K
17. (R) Zorn 254K (D) LaVoy 17K
18. (D) Irwin 158K Deatrick 224K Rajendra 153K
19. (R) Callton 265K Bizon 264K
20. (R) O’Brien 371K (D) McCann 137K
21. (R) LaSata 114K Pagel 116K
22. (R) Theis 122K
23. (D) Hertel 281K
24. (R) Barrett 227K Roberts 139K (D) Rossman-McKinney 313K
25. (R) Lauwers 76K
26. (R) Genetski 201K Nesbitt 213K Wickstra 140K (D) Lewis 29K
27. (D) Ananich 253K
28. (R) MacGregor 255K
29. (R) Afendoulis 427K (D) Brinks 289K
30. (R) Garcia 259K Haveman 97K Victory 237K DeBoer 10K
31. (R) Glenn 243K Daley 118K (D) Luczak 30K Jordan 24K
32. (R) Horn 270K (D) Phelps 36K Gaudreau 12K
33. (R) Outman 65K
34. (R) Bumstead 184K Hughes 1.1M (D) Lamonte 29K Sias-Hernandez 53K
35. (R) Franz 52K Rendon 102K VanderWall 126K
36. (R) Stamas 324K
37. (R) Schmidt 386K Gurr 7K
38. (R) McBroom 128K Carey 129K (D) Dianda 179K

You Betcha! (2)Nuh Uh.(1)