LANSING – The state’s top 150 political action committees have raised $47 million so far this election cycle according to reports filed with the Bureau of Elections. That is 59 percent more than the top 150 PACs of 2004 had raised at the same point in the last election cycle.
The remarkable increase was led by the Coalition for Progress, a new PAC that was organized just two months ago. Coalition for Progress has raised $5,174, 400. Jon Stryker of Kalamazoo ($4,651,000) and his sister, Pat Stryker of Colorado Springs ($500,000), contributed 99.6 percent of the new PAC’s funds.
The legislative caucuses’ PACs occupied positions 2, 4, 5 and 6 on the list of 150. The House Republican Campaign Committee has raised $3,986,556, including a $900,000 loan; the Senate Republicans: $2,339,930; the House Democrats: $2,249,665; and the Senate Democrats: $2,224,063. The Senate Democrats’ fund appears to have a number of unallowable contributions from caucus members. The caucuses’ PACs, alone among Michigan PACs, are subject to a contribution limit: $20,000 per year from any source.
The United Auto Workers Voluntary PAC leads a long list of established PACs that have much more money this year compared to prior years. The UAW V-PAC has taken in $3,550,000, up more than 200 percent compared to the 2004 election cycle. Among others showing major gains: Granholm Leadership Fund: up 102 percent at $877,465; EMILY’s List: up more than 1900 percent at $746,000; Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s Generations PAC: up 200 percent at $452,000 (despite a missing its report for October 2006); and Meijer PAC: up 220 percent at $429,000.
The leading politician’s leadership PAC is Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s Commonwealth PAC with $1,492,000. Romney has established similar PACs in other early primary and presidential caucus states. Other top leadership PACs are those of Governor Granholm, Mayor Kilpatrick, Speaker of the House Craig DeRoche ($273,000), Lieutenant Governor John Cherry ($259,000) and Senate Democratic floor leader Mark Schauer ($201,000). Jon Stryker contributed $130,000 to Schauer’s PAC. Three contenders to replace term-limited Sen. Ken Sikkema as Senate Republican leader are operating two PACs each. Their fundraising totals are: Sen. Mike Bishop: $338,000; Sen. Jason Allen: $287,000; and Sen. Wayne Kuipers: $276,000.
“This is another aspect of a record-setting year for money in Michigan politics,” said Rich Robinson of the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “The interest groups on this list are spending at an unprecedented rate. The people and the press need to remain vigilant to make sure the public interest won’t be overwhelmed by elected officials’ desire to show appreciation for all this campaign cash.”