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What money is behind the politicians that are threatening Kent County Health Director Adam London

September 26, 2021

Last Tuesday, MLive posted a story about how Kent County Health Director Adam London has not only received verbal threats against his life, but that there was an attempt by someone to force him off the road while driving on US 131.

These kinds of threats seem to be more common, especially since the COVID pandemic began in March of 2020. The latest round of push back is coming from parents and groups like Moms for America once the new school year began.

There have been other threats against health department officials, like the threats made by State lawmakers against Adam London, in a letter that was sent to London on August 13th. The threat that four State Representatives used was framed as:

We in the Legislature are willing to use the Constitutional tools at our disposal – including the power of the purse – should a public health officer act outside the sphere of proper authority. 

This letter was sign by 86th District Rep. Thomas Albert, 72nd District Rep. Steven Johnson, 74th District Rep. Mark Huizenga and 73rd District Rep. Bryan Posthumus. Now, various West Michigan news sources had reported on the letter sent to Adam London, but none of the news agencies thought to look at campaign finance records and see which individuals or which entities are the largest contributors to these four men. In other words, the “power of the purse” can work both ways. 

What if the public was more aware of the money behind these elected officials? Transparency around campaign financing is a tool that popular social movements have used for decades, since it is not always enough to pressure politicians, but to pressure, expose or boycott the money that puts politicians in power. This is particularly relevant for politicians who hold local office, whether at the county or state level. Just look at the names of the organizations and individuals that have been the primary financial backers of these four State Representatives:

Rep. Thomas Albert has held office since 2015. According to Campaign Finance records, the number one contributor to Albert has been the CEO of Autocam John Kennedy, contributing $12,000. John Kennedy, has a long history of financing conservative politicians and far right policies. John Kennedy is a member of the Grand Rapids Power Structure, is deeply involved in groups like the West Michigan Policy Forum and has been one of the largest campaign contributors to State Senator Mike Shirkey, who sued Gov. Whitmer in May of 2020 over COVID mandates.

In the 2020 Election, Rep. Steven Johnson’s largest contributor was the Michigan Strategic Fund. The Michigan Strategic Fund is a Republican Political Action Committee and some of their largest contributors from West MI are the Meijer PAC ($6,000), Dan DeVos ($5,000) and Elsa Prince ($5,000) who is Betsy’s mother.  The DeVos family has also been a direct campaign contributor to Steven Johnson, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Rep. Bryan Posthumus is a relative newcomer to state office, being elected in 2020 to the 73rd District. Posthumus got in to office with money from groups like Michigan Association of Realtors, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Doug & Maria DeVos, Dan DeVos, Dick DeVos and JC Huizenga, all part of the Grand Rapids Power Structure. 

In the 2020 Election, Rep. Mark Huizenga’s largest contributors were the Chatfield Majority Fund (Rep. Lee Chatfield also sued Gov. Whitmer over COVID mandates), several members of the Meijer family and several members of the DeVos family. Mark Huizenga is now running for State Senate this November and lots of big name West Michigan donors are contributing to his campaign, such as the Meijer family, virtually every member of the DeVos family, Michael Jandernoa, the Van Andel family and JC Huizenga……again, all members of the Grand Rapids Power Structure. It is also worth noting that the Great Lakes Education Project, created by Betsy DeVos, has formally endorsed Mark Huizenga for State Senate, because he, “is willing to put students and parents ahead of Michigan’s failed education bureaucracy.”

I do not want to minimize the verbal threats and road rage directed at Kent County Health Director Adam London, but the threat that comes from politicians is far greater than delusional parents. Politicians set policy, policies that have long lasting and structural impact on families and communities. However, these politicians don’t get to where they are without the funding they receive in the form of campaign contributions. When politicians make threats against public health officials, we should expose and pressure them, along with members of the West Michigan elite that endorse and condone the kind of harm that these politicians commit through public policy and public pronouncements. 

The DeVos family, the Meijer family, the Van Andel family, John Kennedy, Michael Jandernoa, JC Huizenga and other member of the local power structure, need to be held accountable for their role in creating a political climate that tolerates and nurtures the kind of vitriol that has escalated in recent years.

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