Campaign Finance Bills Pass The Michigan Senate

Sep 15, 2017

Michigan won’t limit how much money corporations and unions can spend to influence elections in the state – under legislation that’s cleared the state Senate. 

In 2010, the US Supreme Court said corporations and unions could spend as much money as they wanted on political campaigns. 

Seven years later, Michigan lawmakers are putting that standard into state law. 

Arlan Meekhof is the Senate Majority Leader.  He voted in favor of the bills, “Because everybody should have free speech and the Supreme Court has said that free speech equals money in what you give.” 

But critics of the legislation say it gives special interests too much influence over elections.  They also say it goes beyond the Supreme Court case, Citizens United

Under the bills, candidates could solicit unlimited amounts of money for certain Super PACs

Craig Mauger is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.  He said the bills go beyond the Supreme Court case.  They allow candidates to effectively go around current limits on how much money candidates can raise. 

“The state has these limits on how much individuals and PACs can give to people and this bill would allow an easy way around that,” he said.  “Because you could solicit unlimited contributions to an entity that you could then work pretty closely with.”

Super PACs wouldn’t be allowed to directly give money to candidates.  But, the groups could use the money to support candidates through things like mailers and TV commercials.

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org