WestSouthwest: Campaign finance in Michigan
Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation in late December that increases the limits on contributions to political campaigns.
Michigan Campaign Finance Network Executive Director Rich Robinson says the legislation makes the situation in Michigan worse than it was before.
He says amendments added to the bill will help conceal the identity of donors paying for "issue ads." Defenders of keeping those identities secret say donors should be able to give money for causes they care about without worrying about harassment or retribution. But Robinson says most "issue ads" are political parties attacking rival candidates. He says powerful interest groups and politically powerful people in the state don't need protection to speak their mind in politics.
Robinson says part of the law that requires additional campaign finance reports will help improve transparency. He says candidates have been able to go more than a year without filing campaign finance reports. Robinson says he would have liked to require even more reporting. But he says it's the one part of the law that does shed more light on political donations.
But Robinson says the new law will make Michigan's current system worse. He says overall it will help groups hide the source of money in political campaigns.
The Detroit Free Press published an op-ed column from Rich Robinson on "dark money" and the new campaign finance legislation. American Justice Partnership president, and former Western Michigan University trustee, Dan Pero wrote in the Free Press in support of the legislation.