Money in politics: Michigan again on pace for record election spending

Lansing Capitol
Posted at 9:53 PM, May 02, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — Money and politics go hand in hand and their relationship here in Michigan is growing stronger by way of political action committees or PACs.

These PACs can accept unlimited amounts of money, and they can contribute 10 times what you and I can," says Simon Schuster. "So much money is flowing through them. I think it really underscores the amount of influence money has had on our political process."

Schuster is the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that aims to shine a light on the role of money in Michigan politics.

He spoke with FOX 17 after filings for Legislature caucus PACs came down.

“I would say that given the increasing cost of our elections and the rising amount of money that we're seeing in our campaigns, these numbers aren't particularly surprising,” Schuster said of the numbers.

Not surprising in the grand scheme of things, but still a hefty amount of money. The Senate Republican Campaign Committee hauled in more than $600,000 this cycle, leaving them with more than $3 million cash on hand.

Meanwhile, House Republican Campaign Committee took in a whopping $1.2 million this cycle.

On the other side of the aisle, Michigan House Democratic Fund only took in a little more than $360,000 and $250,000 on the Senate side.

“It pays to be in the majority, and I think that the amount of money that Republicans have over Democrats is a reflection of that,” Schuster added.

That will give them an advantage when it comes to a select few districts next year, a treasure chest in the millions will help run large amounts of advertising in competitive areas.

As candidates rake in donations, the cost per election is continuing to increase.

In the race for governor, even without a clear-cut opponent in place Governor Gretchen Whitmer has raised more than $5.5 million so far this cycle.

“I think that this is increasingly showing us that these gargantuan sums approaching close to $100 million are becoming the new normal for Michigan,” Schuster explained. “As a result, I think it definitely has an impact on our political tone.

According to MCFN, the most expensive election in state history took place last November, when more than $200 million was spent on the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Sen. Gary Peters and GOP challenger John James.