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This is a good synopsis from MIRS about what happened on the Michigan House floor yesterday.Sen. David Robertson intoduced these bills.
More dark money in politics in Michigan and one reason republicans (no democrats voted for these bills) is to save their donors who broke campaign finance laws last cycle from having to pay fines.
SuperPAC Codification Bills Get Their Legislative Stamp
The way the Secretary of State currently oversees political "SuperPACs" would be cemented into law under legislation that flew through a House committee, the House floor and the Senate for concurrence today.
Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0335 and Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0336 put into statute current Secretary of State practice that "Super PACs" -- independent expenditure committees spawned from the 2010 Citizens United decision -- meaning they will continue to be able to collect unlimited donations.
Republican lawmakers pushed the bills through the legislative meatgrinder in advance of an expected formal ruling from the Secretary of State that those who have contributed $500 or more to SuperPACs must file as a SuperPAC themselves or face fines.
Elections attorney Bob LaBRANT has estimated that if anyone wanted to press the issue after this formal opinion is issued by Sept. 29, contributors could face a combined $1 million in fines (See "Senate Passes SuperPAC Regulations In Face Of Possible Fines," 9/14/17).
This dynamic was hardly mentioned in the House Elections and Ethics Committee today or on the House floor, where Republicans kept their collective heads down and voted yes as Democrats assailed them with hot rhetoric.
Rep. Jeremy MOSS (D-Southfield) peppered Republicans with questions during today's committee hearing and then lambasted his colleagues on the floor later in the day for retreating to "politics as usual" for Republicans "bent on flooding the system with untraceable money they can use to fatten their campaign coffers."
He noted that under this measure, his campaign committee can only collect $1,000 for a contribution but a SuperPAC created to support his candidacy could ask a donor for $1 million.
"These bills utterly destroy campaign contribution limits that were championed by Gov. (William) MILLIKEN, a post-Watergate good government reform effort. They make the current accountability and transparency in campaign candidate committee absolutely pointless. You can hide untraceable donations in a SuperPAC," Moss said.
In general, Democrats' main argument is that the Republicans had an opportunity to create stiffer regulations on how SuperPACs operate, but failed to do so. Moss went as far as to say "these bills are so bad it has me defending Citizens United from slander."
Speaking in committee today, Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN) Director Craig MAUGER noted several issues, telling MIRS afterwards that at least three changes could have made the bill salvageable to him.
He wanted tighter language on what consists of "coordination" between a candidate's committee and an independent SuperPAC that is assisting that candidate. If the candidate committee and a friendly SuperPAC are sharing the same vendor, Mauger wants a firewall between the employees working those separate accounts.
Finally, Mauger wants SuperPAC donors to meet some reporting requirements.
None of those changes were made. In fact, no changes were made to the S-3 version that moved out of the Senate last week. The bills moved on the House Elections Committee on party lines. It passed the House, 62-45, with Rep. Martin HOWRYLAK (R-Troy) being the only Republican to vote no. Rep. Tim GREIMEL (D-Auburn Hills) was absent from the vote.
Rep. Aaron MILLER (R-Sturgis), chair of the House Elections & Ethics Committee, strongly stated the legislation is about rushing "dark money" through the Legislature.
It has been eight years since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed individuals to express their First Amendment rights of expression in this manner.
"This bill, Click to add MIRS Bill Hound SB 0335, is quite the opposite of a dark money concept," Miller said. "This bill is a light money concept. This bill has plenty of reporting, and it has stiff penalties. This bill has reporting for disbursements. And reporting is a good thing," Miller said.