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Dark Money: DeVos family supports Michigan State Senator who has introduced a bill to conceal nonprofit donors

November 20, 2018

Another election cycle has passed us and one of the most instructive aspects of the 2018 election cycle was how much money was contributed to elect politicians and support ballot initiatives.

According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, the 2018 election was the most expensive in state history, with $291.1 million in contributions for the ballot initiatives and the state’s races for governor, attorney general, secretary of state, Michigan Senate, Michigan House, Michigan Supreme Court, U.S. Senate and U.S. House. These numbers will go up, once all of the contributions have been tailed, which will easily push the amount contributed over $300 million. 

In addition, Michigan also set a record for the amount of money raised by Political Action Committees (PACs). Again, the Michigan Campaign Finance Network put PAC money raised in 2018 at $80 million (for the top 150 PACs). 

We have reported in the past about how the DeVos family paid for legislation that allowed PACs to double the amount of money they could raised for candidates. 

Now, new legislation has been introduced that would effectively ban any state or local public agency from requesting information about supporters of nonprofit organizations, including nonprofit groups that spend money to influence voters in the weeks before an election. On November 8, Republican State Senator Mike Shirkey introduced SB 1176

SB 1176 does not have any co-signers as of yet and according to the State’s Legislature page the bill has been referred to the Michigan Competitiveness Committee.

The Michigan Competitiveness Committee is chaired by Rep. Mike Shirkey and four other State Senators: Jim Stamas (34th District), David Robertson (14th District), John Proos (21st District) and Rebekah Warren (18th District). All of them are Republicans, except for Warren.

In looking at who have been some of the major campaign contributors during their time as a state lawmaker, one name is pretty consistent. The DeVos family has contributed $71,000 to Rep. Shirkey since 2011

In addition, the DeVos family has contributed the following amount since 2011 to two of the other three Republican Senators, who also sit on the Michigan Competitiveness Committee:

Sen. John Proos – $9000 from the DeVos family 

Sen. David Robertson – $7000 rom the DeVos family 

Of course there is nothing new about the fact that the DeVos family contributes significantly to Republican candidates. However, what is important is which candidates they contribute to, which committees they sit on and which candidates either propose legislation or sign onto legislation that will ultimately benefit the DeVos family. The DeVos family is very strategic and contributes money to politicians that will ultimately embrace their financial and ideological agenda, like Sen. Mike Shirkey.

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