William Crandell: Keep Super PACs out of Michigan

Published 5:35 pm Thursday, February 20, 2014

Many Democrats are saddened by the fact that U.S. Sen. Carl Levin will be retiring after the completion of this term in office. Sen. Levin faithfully served this nation for 34 years and was quite often a voice of reason in a time when strict bipartisan politics dominated the political landscape. He will be sorely missed.

The Democrat who is hoping to replace him is veteran U.S. Congressman Gary Peters of Bloomfield Hills. Peters will have his hands full in November if he hopes to beat the Republican front-runner Terri Lynn Land, who is the former Michigan Secretary of State. Land has already established name recognition from her years serving in state government. She’s already raised $3.7 million dollars for her campaign with $1.6 million coming from her own pocket.

National political pundits are starting to refer to the Michigan race as one of the hottest in the nation and recent polls have the two almost tied with Michigan voters. Because of this, many Super Political Action Committees (Super PACs) from across the nation are starting to focus on Michigan because, if they can win the senate race in Michigan, it will undermine the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate.

In a recent speech, Land made it clear that she will welcome any Super PAC money for her campaign even if those funds derive from other states and are only focused on one issue. Once again, this proves that the philosophy of the Republican Party is if you throw around enough money you can buy any election.

Super PACs were invented after the citizens united ruling and usually concern themselves with single issues such as promoting the pro-life agenda or fighting against firearm restrictions. They can raise unlimited funds and use them to aid or destroy the reputation of candidates through ads. Legally, Super PACs cannot donate to an actual campaign or strategize with a candidate, but must spend their funds on independent political activity. Recently, Land admitted to speaking with Super PAC groups and has stated in interviews that they are committed to helping her and the state of Michigan. Because of these statements, many are wondering if Land is in collusion with these PACS and the Michigan Democratic Party has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission requesting that they launch an investigation. Land already has a history of siding with Super PACs ruling in 2004 as the Michigan Secretary of State that “dark money” could be used in Michigan politics. Dark money is secret political contributions that allow the donors to remain anonymous. A recent example is Gov. Rick Snyder’s NERD fund.

Land is clearly a wealthy elitist and by openly embracing dark money and Super PACs she proves that she will allow her political agenda to be influenced if the money is right.

Recently, the Koch brothers sponsored Tea Party group known as the Americans for Prosperity spent $1.2 million dollars in attack ads against the Affordable Care Act and to aid Lands’ campaign. They are preparing to spend even more to ensure that a rightwing extremist wins the senate race in Michigan. The people of this nation deserve transparency in political campaigns so they will know who is attempting to buy their politicians and their government. This is exactly why citizens united needs to be overturned.


William Crandell is a community activist and member of the Michigan Education Association and the Michigan Democratic Party. He is also a member of the South County Democratic Club where he has served as their communications director and as the chairperson of the SCDC Blue Tiger Community Action Committee.