New Report: State Lawmakers Receiving Millions In Corporate Cash Through Secretive Funds

It’s not just a back door, it’s almost as if the entire back side of the house has been blown off the building,” says Craig Mauger, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.  

Rick Pluta/MPRN

Emily Lawler (left) and Craig Mauger (right)

Millions of dollars have flowed to secretive accounts connected to Michigan lawmakers and political parties in recent years. That’s what a new joint investigation by MLive and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network found.

It says exactly 100 days after the state Senate approved massive tax breaks for data centers, the company pushing for the change gave $10,000 to an account that pays state Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof’s expenses.

From the report:

…the $10,000 contribution from Switch, a Nevada-based company planning to open a data center in West Michigan, falls into a difficult-to-trace and rarely discussed form of legal fundraising where many donations don’t have to be disclosed…

…at least 50 of Michigan’s 144 House and Senate members, about one in three, are connected or have been connected to a nonprofit or administrative account. From 2013 to 2015, about $12.8 million flowed to more than 100 accounts connected to political parties, elected officeholders and their consultants in Michigan, the investigation found.”

MLive political reporter Emily Lawler and Craig Mauger, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, join Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to talk about their investigation.

It would be very, very hard for a citizen to see any of these expenditure reports,” says Lawler. ”It’s just a very burdensome process to try to find these.”

It’s not just a back door, it’s almost as if the entire back side of the house has been blown off the building,” says Mauger. 

To hear the full conversation, click on the audio player above.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

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