‘Gilbert Bills’ Highlight Importance of Following the Money in Michigan Politics

“We’re talking millions of dollars in tax incentives for developers,” says Michigan Public Radio’s Cheyna Roth.

Jake Neher/WDET

Developers in Michigan who build on undesirable land are getting big tax breaks.

That’s after lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder approved those incentives earlier this year.

WDET’s Jake Neher and Michigan Public Radio’s Cheyna Roth talk about how Detroit billionaire Dan Gilbert, owner of Quicken Loans, and his associates started spending a lot more money at the state Capitol around the time those bills were passed.

“We’re talking millions of dollars in tax incentives for developers,” says Roth. “Quicken Loans affiliates this past year really ramped up their giving to different lawmakers.”

Neher and Roth also invite Michigan Campaign Finance Network Director Craig Mauger into the conversation. Mauger and Roth have partnered up to report on this story over the last several months.

Mauger says money and politics are inextricably linked in Michigan. But there’s no hard evidence in this case that any quid pro quo exists to show lawmakers promised to approve the bills in return for Gilbert’s campaign contributions.

“There is no indication and nothing pointing to that happening in this case,” says Mauger. “In this case, what we’re looking at is a group that really amped up its lobbying efforts to try to help get some bills through the Legislature, which is not completely abnormal.”

Click here to read more about Roth and Mauger’s reporting on this issue.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


  • Cheyna Roth
    Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She's also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.
  • Jake Neher
    Jake Neher is senior producer for Detroit Today and host of MichMash for 101.9 WDET. He previously reported on the Michigan Legislature for the Michigan Public Radio Network.