State Senate Approves Lifting Limits on Campaign Contributions

Jake Neher/WDET

State Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive)

Michigan won’t limit how much money corporations and unions can spend to influence elections in the state – under legislation that’s cleared the state senate.

In 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court said corporations and unions could spend as much money as they wanted on political campaigns.

Seven years later, Michigan lawmakers are putting that standard into state law.

State Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof voted in favor of the bills, “Because everybody should have free speech and the Supreme Court has said that free speech equals money in what you give,” he says.

But critics of the legislation say it gives special interests too much influence over elections. They also say it goes beyond the Supreme Court case, Citizens United.

Under the bills, candidates could solicit unlimited amounts of money for certain Super Political Action Committees (PACs).

Craig Mauger, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, says the bills go beyond the Supreme Court case. They allow candidates to effectively go around current limits on how much money candidates can raise.

The state has these limits on how much individuals and PACs can give to people and this bill would allow an easy way around that,” he says. “Because you could solicit unlimited contributions to an entity that you could then work pretty closely with.”

Super PACs wouldn’t be allowed to directly give money to candidates. But, the groups could use the money to support candidates through things like mailers and TV commercials.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

This post is a part of 2017 Local Elections: How’s metro Detroit doing?.

This series includes WDET's coverage of candidates' in local elections -- including Detroit's mayoral, clerk and council races.

About the Author

Cheyna Roth

Reporter

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.

CRoth@MPRN.org   Follow @Cheyna_R

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