George Washington is alive and well, as are Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, and yes, even Benjamin Franklin — at least as they pertain to campaign finances. Reports recently filed with the Michigan Secretary of State’s office showcase what state representatives and senators are raking in for the reporting period that began Nov. 23, 2010 and ended on Jan. 31, the date by which documentation was required to be submitted.
According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a watchdog group that describes itself as “a non-partisan, non-profit coalition of organizations and individuals concerned about the influence of money in politics and the need for campaign finance reform in Michigan,” a total of $5.9 million was raised during that 14-month period: $3.5 million by state representatives; $1.6 million by state senators; and $832,000 by Gov. Rick Snyder, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, and Attorney General Bill Schuette.
The Michigan Campaign Finance Network also reported that the political action committees of the four separate caucuses (two each for the House and Senate) raked in about $3 million during the reporting period:
• The House Republican Campaign Committee received $1,038,251 and ended the reporting cycle with a balance of $608,066;
• The House Democratic Fund took in $788,807 and ended the reporting period with a $375,768 balance;
• The Senate Republican Campaign Committee received $841,294 and ended the reporting cycle with a balance of $48,877; and
• The Senate Democratic Fund took in $291,731 and ended the reporting period with a balance of $152,077.
What follows is a breakdown and highlights of the campaign finance reports state lawmakers representing west Oakland County filed with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office earlier this year.
STATE REP. GAIL HAINES
(R-Waterford, West Bloomfield)
Of the eight elected officials from west Oakland County serving the lakes area in Lansing — two state senators and six state representatives, all but one of which is a Republican — Haines came out on top in terms of fund-raising for 2011, amassing $78,503 during the reporting period. However, that stands in contrast to the $144,000 in debt that her political committee, the Committee to Elect Gail Haines, reported.
Yet that also doesn’t include the $65,563 she had on-hand at the end of the prior reporting period, meaning that as of Jan. 31, she reported an ending fund balance of $125,658. Her committee spent $18,407 during the reporting period, campaign finance documents show.
Haines’ largest donors were organizations and political action committees (PACs) representing the medical field — Health PAC ($5,000), the Michigan Association of Anesthesiologists ($4,000), the Michigan Osteopathic PAC ($3,000), Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan ($5,600), Michigan Association of Health Plans ($3,600), Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners ($3,000), and Michigan Doctor’s Political Action Committee ($2,000), among others in the health industry.
In addition, her committee received contributions from the following: Eli Lilly & Co. PAC ($1,000); Michigan Cardiologists PAC ($1,000); Health Underwriters PAC ($1,000); Physician Assistants of Michigan PAC ($1,000); Health Alliance Plan ($1,000); Pharmacy Action Council ($1,200); Friends of WSUOM ($1,000); Michigan Assisted Living Association PAC ($1,000); DTE Energy PAC ($900); Dental PAC ($700); and Pfizer PAC ($1,000).
Her Committee to Elect Gail Haines also received $1,500 in contributions from the Moroun family, owners and operators of the Ambassador Bridge; $500 from Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) Board of Road Commissioners Vice Chairman Greg Jamian, a former county commissioner; $1,700 from the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association; $250 from Deputy County Executive Ken Rogers; $200 from former Congressional candidate Paul Welday; $125 from Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Potts; $100 from West Bloomfield political consultant and pollster Steve Mitchell; and $100 from Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren, Jr.
Haines, chairwoman of the state House Health Policy Committee, could not be reached for comment prior to press time.
STATE REP. EILEEN KOWALL
(R-White Lake, Highland)
Rep. Kowall took in $28,291 during the most recent reporting period, campaign finance documents show. The former Oakland County commissioner, at the end of that period, had $59,412 on-hand after coming into the reporting period with $52,678 and spending $21,557 during the reporting period.
Kowall’s political committee, Friends of Eileen Kowall, accepted its largest contributions from Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan ($1,250), Business Leaders for Michigan PAC ($1,000), the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesellers Association ($922), the LaFontaine family ($2,500 in five $500 contributions), the Mamou family ($1,000 in two $500 contributions), and DTE Energy PAC ($1,000).
Her group also took $500 from the Moroun family, owners and operators of the Ambassador Bridge; and $150 from 52-2 District Court Judge Kelley Kostin. White Lake Township Supervisor Greg Baroni also chipped in $100 to Friends of Eileen Kowall, as did RCOC Board of Road Commissioners Vice Chairman Jamian.
“Business Leaders for Michigan, obviously they feel we are taking great strides to returning Michigan to a prosperous business climate,” Rep. Kowall said. “And the LaFontaines are a great community family, and they recognize how hard we are working here to get Michigan back on the right path. The others (donors), they just look at you and think you’re an effective legislator.”
Kowall added that she would be willing to consider a proposal similar to that of state Rep. Bill Rogers (R-Milford), who has called for a more “real-time” campaign finance reporting requirement of every quarter.
STATE SEN. MIKE KOWALL
(R-Commerce, Highland, Milford, Walled Lake, Wixom, Wolverine Lake, White Lake, Orchard Lake, West Bloomfield)
Sen. Kowall brought in $51,025 during the reporting period, while spending $36,196. However, coming into the reporting period with $42,033 in the kitty leaves him with $56,861 in his campaign coffers.
He took in $2,500 from Blue Cross-Blue Shield PAC and another $1,300 from the Michigan Association of Health Plans and DTE Energy PAC, as well as $1,000 contributions from the following organizations and individuals during the reporting period: Centerpoint PAC, Meijer PAC, Latson Partners LLC, Donald Lindsey, Health Care Advocacy PAC, and Lisa Wyett.
The Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association also ponied up $1,198 for his political committee, and the Moroun family chipped in $500. Oakland County Commissioner Bob Hoffman (R-Highland) forked over $50 for Sen. Kowall’s committee, Friends of Mike Kowall for State Senate, as did Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, White Lake Township Clerk Terry Lilley, 51st District Court Judge Jodi Debbrecht, and RCOC Board of Road Commissioners Chairman Eric Wilson.
Sen. Kowall said his total yield for the reporting period was “low in comparison” to other lawmakers.
“I don’t do a lot of fund-raising,” he said. “I don’t do a lot of soliciting for money. I try to wait until it gets close to the election time. This job can turn you into a beggar, and I hate that part of the job. No matter what you do, you can take $10 from the Broken Toe Nail Association, and right away, (the perception is that) you’re going to be all for broken toe nails.”
Sen. Kowall said his main concern currently is fixing the state’s campaign finance reporting software because it’s antiquated.
STATE REP. LISA BROWN
(D-West Bloomfield, Commerce, Wolverine Lake)
Brown took in $57,730 during the reporting period, according to campaign finance documents, and spent $20,863. She came into the reporting period with $19,835 in her war chest and, after her expenses, keeps a healthy balance of $56,702 in her Friends of Lisa Brown Committee coffers.
She lent her committee $25,200 during the reporting period.
Brown, who is serving her second term in the state House, received $4,150 from the Michigan Education Association PAC and another $2,800 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Committee on Political Education, plus another $2,272 from the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. The Hammel Leadership Fund, a political committee of state House Minority Leader Rep. Richard Hammel (D-Mt. Morris), shelled out $1,000 to Brown’s Committee, and Orchard Lake homemaker Elaine Miller forked over another $1,500 during the reporting period.
Brown’s committee also took another $1,000 from Bloomfield Hills attorney Randall S. Miller. West Bloomfield Township Trustee Gene Farber also pitched in $100 to Brown’s committee.
Brown could not be reached for comment prior to press time.
STATE REP. HUGH CRAWFORD
(R-Walled Lake, Wixom)
Crawford took in $4,500 during the reporting period and spent $6,290. With the smallest amount in his war chest, Crawford came into the reporting period with $5,147 and ends the period with $4,034 in cash on-hand.
“They must have had bigger fund-raisers,” Crawford said of other campaign funds when asked of the comparatively small amount reportedly raised by his committee, Friends of Hugh D. Crawford. “I really didn’t have that many big fund-raisers. I had a couple here in Lansing, but for the reporting period that was, it is what it is.”
He also said the relatively low fund-raising amount is in no way indicative of him not seeking a third and final term in the state House: He plans on filing for re-election soon.
Crawford’s committee took $1,250 from Blue Cross-Blue Shield PAC, $900 from DTE Energy, and $500 from Health PAC during the reporting period.
STATE REP. CHUCK MOSS
Moss is the state’s top budget man in the House as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and his campaign finance reports show that he raised $57,012 during the most recent reporting period. The term-limited former Oakland County commissioner and Birmingham mayor, who has said he plans to run for the state Senate in 2014, spent $27,123 during the reporting period and came in to that cycle with $42,838 in cash in his war chest. He ended the period with $72,727 in the kitty, money which he said will be used for a state Senate campaign he will embark on in 2014, when state Sen. John Pappageorge (R-Troy) is term-limited.
Moss said he would like a campaign finance reporting system that allows full disclosure of the composition of groups donating to candidates and elected officials.
“The Committee for a Better Michigan or the Better Michigan Committee … ” Moss said, referring to an old “Monty Python” sketch. “Who’s behind that? If you’re going to fund stuff and be politically involved, that ought to be out there for everyone to see.”
For his part, Moss’ top donors during the last reporting period included Michigan Doctors PAC ($3,808), the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesellers Association ($3,112), Health PAC ($2,400), Muchmore Harrington Smalley & Associates ($1,976), Blue Cross-Blue Shield PAC ($1,400), Realtors Action Committee ($1,700), Michigan Association of Health Plans ($1,100), and Business Leaders for Michigan and Jackier Gould PAC ($1,000 each).
Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner John McCulloch chipped in $500 to Moss’ committee, and county Commissioner David Potts (R-Birmingham) shelled out $250. State Rep. Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy), who is running for county treasurer this year, ponied up $250, as did RCOC Board of Road Commissioners Vice Chairman Jamian.
“I stand for what I stand for,” Moss said. “If people like what I stand for and are willing to support that, I’m willing to take money from them. I present what I do and how I do it, and if you like me, I’m happy to accept support from most groups. I’m not going to alter my conduct or my voting because this group or that group gives me money.”
STATE SEN. DAVID ROBERTSON
Robertson took in $41,098 during the most recent reporting period, according to campaign finance documents, and spent a total of $34,787 during that time. Coming into the period with $25,229 in the bank, he has an ending balance of $26,347 in his Dave Robertson for State Senate committee coffers.
Robertson pointed to increased penalties for people and committees that fail to file with balances of $20,000 or more as some of the heightened reporting requirements the state Senate has tackled to put more teeth in the state’s campaign finance reporting rules.
His largest contributors were Blue Cross-Blue Shield PAC ($3,000 in three $1,000 donations), Michigan Doctors PAC ($3,000), the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants PAC ($2,250), Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association ($1,323), and the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association ($1,000), DTE Energy PAC ($1,000), the Michigan Bankers Association ($1,000), the Michigan Association of Health Plans ($1,000), and the Michigan Credit Union League Action Fund ($1,000).
“I obviously receive contributions from a lot of different folks, both organizations and PACs, but also ordinary citizens in my district,” he said. “I get support from the medical society, but you’ll also see that there are contributions from individual doctors in my district. I work hard to strike a proper balance on my contributions from groups and individuals in my district, and ordinary people in my district from all walks of life.”
STATE REP. BILL ROGERS
Rogers, whose district largely includes Livingston County communities, reported receiving $5,075 during the most recent reporting cycle and spending $2,815 during that time. He entered the reporting period with $17,042 in his Bill Rogers for State Representative Committee account, and he closed the reporting period with $19,303.
Rogers’ committee received $1,150 from the CSX Good Government Fund, $500 from Judy Blakeman of Howell, $500 from Versa Development CEO Todd Wyett, and $300 from Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan.
Rogers could not be reached for comment prior to press time.