The next regular meeting of The Gadsden Center is scheduled for Tuesday June 14, 2016

Please join us for food and fellowship at our social hour and dinner at 5:30 pm. Our meeting starts at 7 pm.

Block Brewing Company
1140 S. Michigan Avenue
Howell, MI 48843

Mr. Craig Mauger, Executive Director and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network will be our guest speaker at the June 14 meeting of The Gadsden Center. Mr. Mauger will discuss the need for campaign finance reform in our state.

The state of Michigan has the worst government transparency and practices according to an mLive article published on November 9, 2015. This is due in part to loose campaign finance statutes and regulation. Included in these loose regulations are precinct delegate races which are exempted from campaign finance disclosure. In short, delegates who nominate our Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General have no campaign finance disclosure requirements. This has led recently to an influx of large amounts of establishment money being spent of delegate races. This trend is expected to continue into the next election cycle when these "big 3" races are up for grabs, as all incumbents are term-limited.

Some of the biggest hidden spending is done by groups backed by wealthy GOP benefactor Dick DeVos. The acknowledged leader of Michigan's deep-pocketed establishment, groups controlled by DeVos spent heavily in the 2014 race for Lt. Governor. This excerpt from an mLive article sums it up:

The Calley campaign claims it has put together the “largest precinct delegate recruitment project in Michigan history,” and groups such as the DeVos-backed Michigan Freedom Fund and the Michigan Advocacy Trust have also been recruiting and endorsing potential delegates.

“This is all going on below the radar and behind the scenes,” Ballenger said. “Anybody active in Republican Party politics knows about this, and they know how critical it is, but the media has largely missed it.”

An IRS filing by the Michigan Advocacy Trust discloses that the DeVos tentacles extend deep into the 8th Congressional District of the Michigan Republican Party. The Chairperson of the "trust"  is Linda Lee Tarver, the Vice-Chairperson is Norm Shinkle, and the Secretary-Treasurer is Richard McLellan. All three are longtime fixtures in the Michigan GOP.

What makes it possible for organizations like Michigan Advocacy Trust to spend on delegate elections without disclosing donors? This section of Michigan Compiled Law makes clear that deceptive financing practices are carved into Michigan's electoral fabric.

“Elective office” means a public office filled by an election. A person who is appointed to fill a vacancy in a public office that is ordinarily elective holds an elective office. Elective office does not include the office of precinct delegate.

Join us on June 14 as we learn more about the "dark money" in Michigan politics.


The Michigan Campaign Finance Network is a nonpartisan, nonprofit coalition of organizations and individuals concerned about the influence of money in politics and the need for campaign finance reform in Michigan. MCFN conducts research on campaign contributions and their relationship to election outcomes and issues of public policy, supports access to campaign finance information and develops educational initiatives for the public on the subject of campaign finance reform.

Craig Mauger joined MCFN as executive director in January 2016. Before that, he worked as a reporter covering government and politics for a decade. He worked for newspapers in Indiana and spent three and a half years covering the State Capitol in Lansing for Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS News). During his time at MIRS News, much of his coverage focused on following the money in state politics, including tracking the changing role of politically focused nonprofits and the connection between donations and legislative outcomes. Craig is a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. He, his wife and his son live in Lansing.




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