amended 4:00p, 10/29/2012
LANSING - Active ballot committees raised $141.4 million in Michigan this election cycle, as of Friday, October 26th. Three of the six proposals voters will decide on November 6th have already smashed the state's previous record for a ballot contest, the 2004 campaign that established requirements for any future expansion of casino gaming. That campaign, which pitted the state's established casino operators against harness racetrack operators who were hoping to install slot machines at their facilities, cost $27.6 million.
That total of $141.4 million is 31 percent more than spending in 2010 for all Michigan's state campaigns. Spending last election cycle for governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state senate, state house, statewide education boards, supreme court, court of appeals, trial courts and a single ballot question was $107.6 million.
Proposal 2 - Big money showdown of labor against business
Although there is not a clear separation of all the campaigns because the committee Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution is generally opposing all the constitutional amendments, the contest around Proposal 2 is the most heated. Prop 2 is the constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to collective bargaining. The proponents had raised $21.9 million by October 26th, while the opponents had raised $25.9 million.
The UAW Community Action Program (CAP) is the top contributor to the proponent committee, Protect Working Families. It has given $3.3 million, while UAW Solidarity House has contributed another $1,028,000. Other donors who have given at least $1 million are: Michigan Education Association - $2.2 million, AFL-CIO State Unity Fund - $1.8 million, American Federation of Teachers - $1 million, National Education Association - $1 million and the USO Crisis Fund - $1 million. The USO Crisis Fund is part of the overall MEA operation.
Literally scores of union locals and central organizations have provided financial support to the effort.
The opponents to Proposal 2 are led by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. It has given $5.4 million to the committee Protecting Michigan Taxpayers and $1.6 million to Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution from its corporate treasury. It has given an additional $2.7 million to Protecting Michigan Taxpayers and $698,000 to Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution from its ballot committee, Chamber PAC II (top donors to Chamber PAC II include the Michigan Republican Party - $2.5 million, and Meijer, Inc. - $300,000).
Other leading contributors to Protecting Michigan Taxpayers include Michigan Alliance for Business Growth - $3.5 million, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson - $2 million, and the DeVos family - $2 million.
The Michigan Republican Party has given $1.5 million to Protecting Michigan's Constitution from its administrative account.
Extensive lists of contributors to all three committees are attached to this release.
Proposal 3 - Enviros against the utilities
Proposal 3, the proposed constitutional amendment to require Michigan to use 25 percent renewable energy by 2025, is the second most expensive ballot campaign. It pits a long list of environmental organizations against the state's leading utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, and their allies from the carbon energy industry.
Top donors to the proponents, Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs, include the Michigan League of Conservation Voters - $3.1 million, the national League of Conservation Voters - $1.8 million, Green Tech Action Fund - $1.7 million, Blue Green Alliance - $1.4 million, American Wind Energy Association - $1 million and Julian H. Robertson, Jr. - $1 million. A number of state-based environmental organizations that have supported the proposal with in-kind staff support, or that otherwise have not contributed all their resources to the main committee, are listed separately in the accompanying list of financial supporters.
The opponents to Proposal 3 operate under the name Clean Affordable Renewable Energy (CARE) for Michigan. Consumers Energy has given $11,634,000 to the committee. DTE Energy has contributed $11,570,000. Wolverine Electric Cooperative gave $100,000 through the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association (MECA).
Proposals 5 & 6 - DIBC's amendments
Proposals 5 and 6 are creations of the Detroit International Bridge Company. It has poured $31.6 million into the committee, The People Should Decide, which is the proponent for a constitutional amendment to require approval by popular vote of Michigan citizens for construction of any future international bridge or tunnel to Canada. The official campaign follows a $9 million television ad campaign DIBC ran opposing the bridge that played out over 2011 and the first half of 2012.
The committee opposing Proposal 6 is Taxpayers Against Monopolies. It has raised $914,000. Its top donors include General Motors - $500,000, Chrysler - $100,000 and Meijer, Inc. - $100,000.
Funding for Proposal 5, which would require voter approval, or a two-thirds legislative majority, to increase any state tax, is similarly dominated by the financial empire of DIBC owner Manuel J. "Matty" Moroun. DIBC gave $944,000 to Michigan Alliance for Prosperity through the Proposal 6 committee, People Should Decide. The remaining $272,000 raised by that committee was donated by Americans for Prosperity, the nonprofit political committee closely associated with David and Charles Koch.
The second committee pushing Prop 5, Americans for Prosperity Michigan Ballot Committee, has raised all but $15,000 of its $3.5 million from Liberty Bell Insurance Agency, another arm of the Moroun family financial holdings.
Defend Michigan Democracy is the committee opposing Proposal 5. It has raised $2 million. Its top contributors include the Michigan Health and Hospital Association - $400,000, the National Education Association - $400,000, Michigan Municipal League - $269,000 and the American Federation of Teachers - $250,000.
Proposal 4 - Unionization of home care faces little opposition
The committee Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care is the proponent for Proposal 4, which would establish a registry of unionized home health care providers. This constitutional amendment would reestablish a system that was established during the Granholm administration, but subsequently eliminated. All the committee's funds, $7,998,000, were provided by Home Care First, Inc.
The ballot committee of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has given Home Care First $5,705,000. The sources of the balance of donations to Home Care First, a nonprofit corporation, are not known.
There is no focused financial opposition to Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care, beyond the general, "Say, no," campaign of Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution.
Proposal 1 - Referendum on the Emergency Manager Act
Proposal 1 is notable for the relatively low cost incurred in collecting sufficient petition signatures to reach the ballot. While most other committees spend roughly $2 million for successful petition circulation, the committee Stand Up for Democracy succeeded while spending less than $200,000. As a referendum, its petition requirements were less than a constitutional amendment, but it was evident that it mobilized considerable grassroots support for its effort.
Stand Up for Democracy has raised $1,962,000. American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Michigan Council 25 has given $1,826,000 of that amount. AFSCME Oregon Council 75 has given $50,000, as the second biggest donor.
There has been no focused financial opposition to Proposal 1 since it survived a legal challenge put forth by Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility. If the referendum on Proposal 1 fails to uphold the Emergency Manager Act, it is widely expected that it will be rewritten by the legislature during its lame duck session after Election Day.
Two committees - powder dry
Two active ballot committees that have raised substantial amounts of money have not begun to spend.
League of Responsible Voters has raised $845,000 from union sources but hasn't indicated which issues it will address. Its donors to date are National Education Association - $585,000, the UAW - $100,744, SEIU - $100,000 and MEA - $60,000.
Protect MI Constitution has raised $100,000 from Greektown Casino. It has not indicated yet how it will spend its funds.
The committee Citizens for More Michigan Jobs hoped to be a seventh ballot proposal but it was denied access to the ballot in a 4-3 decision by the Michigan Supreme Court because the proposal's effect was ruled to be too expansive. The committee would have put expansion of casino gaming at specific locations before the voters. The committee raised $3.5 million. The identities of its donors could not be determined because their funds were routed through a nonprofit corporation before going to the ballot committee.
Opposition to the casino proposal came from the established casino industry through the committee, Protect MI Vote. Protect MI Vote raised just less than $2 million. Its top donor was MGM Grand Casino - $625,000. The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe - $325,000, Motor City Casino, - $306,000, Four Winds - $297,000, Firekeepers - $274,000, and Greektown - $265,000, also fed the fund.
Lastly, the Right to Know Committee announced in the spring that it would pursue a corporate accountability constitutional amendment. The proposal was shelved within two business days. It raised $73,452, $69,500 from the Michigan Democratic Party.
Context: What other proposals cost
The extraordinary scale of this year's ballot proposal campaigns is clear when they are compared to others of the recent past. Here are some examples:
• Michigan's 2008 Stem Cell proposal cost a total of $16.3 million; $9.7 million in support, $6.6 million in opposition.
• The 2008 Medical Marijuana proposal cost $2.3 million; $2 million in support, $309,000 in opposition.
• The 2006 ban of Affirmative Action cost $6.7 million; $4.9 million in support, $1.66 million in opposition.
• The 2004 Casino proposal cost $27.6 million; $19.7 million in support, $6.9 million in opposition.
• The 2004 ban of Marriage Equality cost $2.7 million; $1.8 million in support, $901,000 in opposition.
Michigan will not have the most expensive proposal this year. The results of ballot proposals in other states provide additional informative context:
• California's Prop 29 earlier this year would have created a new tax on cigarettes to fund cancer research. It was defeated. Total cost was $66 million; $18.3 million in support; $47.7 million in opposition.
• Ohio Issue 2 in 2011 overturned restrictions on collective bargaining. Total cost was $54 million. Opponents of the law spent $42 million, supporters of the law spent $12 million.
• California's 2008 Prop 7 was a renewable energy proposal that was defeated. Total cost was $39.1 million; S9.4 million in support, $29.8 in opposition. PG&E and the Edison Institute combined to give opponents $27.6 million.
Data on Michigan ballot committees were compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from reports filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections.