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3rd Congressional Race – Follow the Money

August 30, 2010

It has been nearly 4 weeks since the Primary Election and not much attention has been given to 3rd Congressional District race. There is just over 2 months left before the November 2nd vote and it is worth looking at the race to replace Congressman Vern Ehlers.

There are five candidates running for the 3rd Congressional District: Justin Amash (Republican), Pat Miles (Democrat), Charlie Shick (Green), Theodore Gerrard (US Taxpayers) and James Rogers (Libertarian).

If people are relying on the mainstream commercial media in the Grand Rapids area they would be somewhat familiar with both Miles and Amash, but the other three candidates are virtually unknown to most voters. The first time we noted any coverage of the other three candidates was in yesterday’s Grand Rapids Press, which mentioned that Charlie Shick was the Green Party candidate for the 3rd Congressional District in the Political Polpourri section.

This lack of local news exposure of candidates outside of the Republican and Democratic Party will no doubt continue until Election Day and local political debates are likely to exclude those candidates as well. Lack of exposure is also due to limited campaign funds. As of the last required campaign finance filing in late July, no money had been raised by Shick, Gerrard or Rogers. Money dictates attention in political races and it also can tell us a great deal about whom candidates give their allegiance to.

Follow the Money

When it comes to money raised so far Amash and Miles are pretty even, with Amash having raised $379,373 by July 14th and Miles $318,251, according to These number will increase tremendously between now and November 2nd, but for now lets look at who the major donors have been.

The single largest campaign contributor to date for Amash has been Michigan Industrial Tools ($25,250), which is owned by Amash’s family. The second largest contributor has been Amway/Alticor ($15,700), but if you included any and all DeVos connected entities you would have to add Windquest Group ($4,400) and DP Fox Ventures ($2,400). In fact, virtually everyone in the DeVos clan is endorsing Justin Amash, from Amway founder Richard DeVos to son’s Doug and Dick and even Artprize guru Rick DeVos.

Other major contributors to Amash’s campaign are Club for Growth ($14,200), which is a national ultra-conservative group committed to getting Republicans elected to Congress. Then there are several local businesses whom have contributed significantly to Amash’s campaign, such as Savory Foods ($9,600), Preusser Jewelers ($7,200) and local insurance company Coleman, Dugan & Hughes ($4,800). Other notable donors are S. Abraham & Sons ($3,500), Ellis Parking ($2,700) and the law firm of Warner, Norcross & Judd ($3,400).

For Pat Miles the biggest campaign contributor to date has been Dickinson Wright Llc ($9,500), a law firm with a long list of corporate clients. Besides the $9,500 they are listed as contributing they also have given another $5,500 listed as Dickinson Wright Pllc and another $4,650 listed as Dickinson, Wright et al., according to This would put that law firms total campaign contributions to Pat Miles at $19,650 as of July 14.

Other major contributor’s to Miles campaign are the law firm of Varnum ($8,250), Yesterdog ($4,500), the Wege Foundation ($4,000), Crystal Flash Energy ($2,400), Steelcase Inc. ($2,400) and the Microsoft Corporation ($2,400.) to name a few.

Clearly, a good percentage of the funds raised by both Amash and Miles to date are disproportionately from the elite sectors of West Michigan, which should be an indication to us about whom their allegiance will be to if elected.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave permalink
    August 30, 2010 3:00 pm

    I think more attention should be put on Amash’s biography. It’s my understanding the Michigan Industrial Tools, despite its name, is a tool importer. The manufacture is in China. I bet a lot of folks who think that Justin would be better for improving our regional economy would be shocked to learn that his family fortune is based on offshoring.

  2. August 30, 2010 3:24 pm

    Dave, thanks for the comment. I agree that Amash’s family company and it’s outsourcing to China are an issue as it related to the current Michigan economy. Looking more closely at the candidates economic policies will be the subject of future posts.

    However, I don’t think that issue is more important than where the top 2 candidates get their money from. On that point Miles has received lots of money from the law firm Dickinson Wright, which represents major corporations like Ford, Chrysler and Caterpillar, all of which have sent jobs overseas.

    When we look at political races we do not want to show any bias and we don’t endorse candidates. We think it is important to be critical and investigate all candidates and parties and provide as much information for people so they can make an informed decision if they choose to participate in the electoral process.

  3. Harris permalink
    August 30, 2010 4:07 pm

    Well, in fairness, it should also be pointed out that both campaigns do what every campaign does: go to the people they know first. For Amash, that means heading for the family. (The De Vos money is a different, more calculated item. What is notable is that he has yet to pick up other partners in the DeVos funding network). Likewise, Miles goes to the people who know him best, his fellow partners at Dickinson. A more sophisticated reading of the names would also note that some are part of the regular Dem supporters (e.g. David Soet). I would suggest that a more pertinent question is that of the loans he has made for his campaign. Few of us are able to write checks with so many zeros.

  4. ben permalink
    August 30, 2010 8:59 pm

    I am far left on the issues , but will not cast my vote for charlie schick. He has made no effort to my knowledge in actually campaigning. If he actually wanted to make a difference he should have ran on the democratic ticket and his concerns on the issues would have been put out there during the democratic primary debate.

    You can run a grassroots campaign with little or no money.

    I’ll vote for Miles this november , knowing a vote cast for charlie schick is a wasted vote.

  5. dawn permalink
    August 31, 2010 5:54 pm


    This is such tired logic. While I’d argue that electoral politics are a complete waste of time, I really have no time for the stupid argument that if you want to make a difference you should either run as or vote Democratic. I think the Greens–especially locally–are a joke anyway, but if the left is going to play electoral games they should run anti-establishment candidates rather than falling behind the Dems every couple years.

    Supporting Democrats hasn’t worked in the past and it sure ain’t gonna work now!!!

  6. Kate Wheeler permalink
    August 31, 2010 6:51 pm

    I think that the biggest value of the “follow the money” type articles that GRIID has been posting about campaign contributions is so we can understand how essentially broken our political process really is.

    We have no representation in government. Only corporations and wealthy families, such as the DeVos clan, do. They buy the legislators and judges they want and put them into power. Any attention that the candidates, once elected, pay to the concerns of ordinary citizens comes in the form of lip service and photo ops.

    This article helps remind us of who will stand to benefit most if each of these candidates is elected, and that’s valuable.

  7. ben permalink
    September 1, 2010 10:32 am


    think of the michigan auto workers whose job were saved by the democrats bail out of gm

    the waitress who works at a small local restaurant and has no medical insurance will be able to purchase healthcare in a few years. someone earning min. wage can purchase healthcare for only 10 bucks a week.(that’s less than non necessities like cable tv and high speed internet per month)

    children with preexisting conditions can no longer be denied health insurance

    the democrats are more likely to support a women’s right to choose

    the vote on the lilyledbetter fair pay act in the house shows a big difference between democrats and republicans dems 244 yes 4 no repub 3 yes 167 no

    refusing to vote is helping out the republicans or casting a vote for a third party when an election might be close helps the republicans also

    dawn will you be yawning if the republicans take control and repeal the healthcare act as 50,000 people continue to die each year in the u.s. due to lack of healthcare?

    dawn will you yawn as the republicans repeal the healthcare act and the u.s. will remain 46th in infant moratality rate?

    dawn will you yawn as children with prexisting conditions will be denied if healthcare is repealed?

    dawn will you yawn as a young girl dies in an alley lying next to a bloody hangar?

    In november we have a choice to vote for the slightly less offensive.

  8. September 15, 2010 9:07 pm


    I apologize that my campaign has not reached you yet. Unlike Amash or Miles, I work for a living and typically only get out during the weekends. I am pursuing a door-to-door campaign at this time though and maybe I will meet you then, or at any of the other events around town at which I have and will continue to campaign.

    As we saw in the Democratic primary, Paul Mayhue ran a very similar progressive campaign, but without the large contributions reaped by Miles he lost handily. I could’ve thrown in with the Democrats, but even if I ran my campaign cleanly, the party still receives corporate money, and those above me would still have had their strings pulled like so many puppets.


    I will admit that the Green presence here is rather weak (I will not call it a joke though), that is one reason why I am running. If you look at the Greens who have been elected, especially here in Michigan, we have kept true to our roots and made differences where we said we would.

    You can say a vote for me is a wasted vote, as I will most likely not win, but at the same time, I am the only candidate whose job plan does not include furthering corporate welfare, whose healthcare plan is truly universal, and who is calling for a complete end to all open ended hostilities involving the United States military. That is the role of the third party, to bring up the issues that are ignored by the major parties.

  9. Jeff Smith permalink
    September 15, 2010 9:56 pm

    Charlie, thanks for the comments. GRIID tries its best to report on elections in a non-partisan, non-biased fashion, which is why we included information about you in the initial posting here. We plan to continue to do that through November 2 and critique local media coverage on this race and anything else that might be on the November 2nd ballot.


  1. Follow the Money – State Senate and State House races « Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
  2. Where the money comes from matters: The Press and campaign finance disclosure « Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

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