BY JEREMY MOSS
If you launch a campaign for State Representative, you can raise money from individual donors into a candidate committee.
If you want to support other candidates and political causes that align with your values, you can raise money from individual donors into a political action committee.
That should be enough money in politics. But apparently it’s not for Republican legislators in Michigan.
Last week, Governor Snyder signed legislation into law that would expand the influence of new Super PACs in Michigan by codifying the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision into state law. Senate Bills 335 and 336 passed out of the legislature with only Republican support in the House and Senate.
Unlike candidate committees and current political action committees – these Super PACs allow candidates to bypass campaign fundraising limits and use corporate money – often untraceable to individual donors – to influence elections.
As I pointed out this week during testimony on these bills in the House Elections Committee, if my top donor contributes the maximum allowable amount to my candidate committee, this legislation will allow me to direct him or her to pump an unlimited amount of money from a variety of untraceable sources into a Super PAC with which I’m affiliated.
(My exchange with the bill sponsor where this scenario plays out can be viewed on YouTube in a video titled “State Rep. Jeremy Moss Exposes Problems with Furthering Citizens United in Michigan.”)
Under current law, I can ask my top donor to contribute no more than $1,000 to my “Jeremy Moss for State Representative” campaign committee. But under Senate Bills 335-336, my campaign attorney can create a “Jeremy Moss Super PAC” and I can personally solicit that same donor for another $1,000…or $50,000…or $1 million.
All of this makes campaign contribution limits pointless if I can raise an unlimited amount of money from donors to hide them in a Super PAC that can perform the same function as my candidate committee – with the same campaign attorney overseeing both committees!
Candidate committees and political action committees are accountable to the public, but these new Super PACs would make politicians accountable only to the corporations that fund them.
Just one day after these bills passed the House, Governor Snyder quickly signed them into law just in time for the Michigan Republican Conference on Mackinac Island last weekend with party insiders and big donors.
We don’t need more money influencing Michigan campaigns, and ultimately influencing public policy.
I’m determined to continue my work to fight for increased government transparency and fairness in our elections despite Republican setbacks.
I believe people deserve the right to know who is influencing their elected officials. That’s why I led a group of legislators to introduce legislation that would remove the exemption of the governor and state legislature to the Freedom of Information Act. This common-sense legislation will increase transparency, help the media and the public hold government accountable, and start to rebuild institutional trust that is at an all-time low.
And all the while, as my transparency bills remain stalled in the Senate, the Governor and legislative leaders are putting a further veil on transparency by introducing Super PACs in Michigan campaigns.
Michigan already ranks dead last among all states in the nation in terms of openness, accountability and ethics. Read more here. Republicans seem determined to keep us there.
Republicans will be reaching out to their wealthy and well-connected corporate donors. Instead, I’m relying on community supporters like you to help my efforts in Lansing. Can I count on a small contribution from you today – $10, $25, or $50 – to make sure your voice is heard louder in the state legislature than special corporate interests?
I don’t have a Super PAC. Instead, I’m proud that I have supporters like you.