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Who is influencing the 2012 Election with money from Grand Rapids?

February 6, 2012

The Center for Responsive Politics just updated their database on financial contributions for the 2012 Election cycle.

The new data shows that President Obama is way ahead of any of the GOP challengers, having raised $125 million so far. The next closest candidate in terms of money raised is Mitt Romney, who has raised $56 million.

Much has been made of the recent Supreme Court decision knows as Citizens United, which has allowed Corporations and other entities to make unlimited donations during election cycles. However, it would dishonest to not recognize that money has always influenced electoral politics in the US and that the richest 1% has always made it a point to buy influence by buying candidates or financing partisan politics.

Looking at the data recently compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, one can see that there are a small number of people locally who are trying to influence the democratic process by giving large sums of money to candidates and political parties as the nation prepares for another Presidential Election in November.

In the 49503 zip code area we found that the largest donors in the 2012 election cycle so far are mostly members of the DeVos Family. Richard DeVos Sr. has contributed $70,900 so far, with his wife Helen giving an additional $60,400. Dick DeVos has contributed $41,300 to date and his wife Betsy has given $33,300. The other two sons of Richard DeVos, Doug and Dan have also made sizeable contributions, with Doug DeVos giving $44,300 and Dan DeVos throwing in $73,300. The wives of Doug and Dan DeVos have also contributed to influencing the election with Doug’s wife Maria contributing $31,300 and Dan’s wife Pam chipping in $5,000. Collectively, these members of the DeVos family have sought to influence the 2012 elections by contributing $359,800 so far, with 9 months of giving still ahead of us. It should be mentioned that Peter Seechia has also contributed a sizeable amount, giving $30,800.

The largest recipients of this money from the 49503 zip code are: the Republican National Committee ($358,700) and Justin Amash ($61750), with other candidates receiving substantially smaller amounts.

From the 49504 zip code area the two largest donors are Susan and Michael Jandernoa, who have contributed a combined amount of $81,600. Jandernoa is the CEO of the Perrigo Company. Their money has primarily gone to the Republican National Committee and Pete Hoekstra who is running against Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow.

In the 49506 zip code area the largest donors are Mark (Meijer CEO) and Elizabeth Murray, which have contributed a combined $40,800 to date.  Other sizeable contributors have been JC Huizenga $5,000 and Crystal Flash President Thomas Fehsenfeld $5,000. The largest recipients from this zip code area are again the Republican National Committee and Pete Hoekstra.

From the 49546 zip code area (East Grand Rapids) the largest donors are: Calvin College President Gaylen Byker $65,100, Amway executive Suzanne Vanderweide giving $30,800 and Kate Pew Walters $10,000. The largest recipient from the 49546 zip code area are again the National Republican Committee.

Lastly, the largest donors from the 49512 zip code area are John Kennedy (Autocam CEO) $165,800 and Nancy Kennedy $40,800. The top recipient of money coming from the 49512 zip code area are the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Michigan.

Clearly the largest contributors from Grand Rapids are giving to the GOP, but as we noted earlier the Obama campaign is way ahead of all other contenders. However, it is useful to note whom the big money players are in electoral spending from this city and it speaks to their contempt for anything resembling real democracy.

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