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A new senate bill would allow Michigan lawmakers to directly solicit corporations for super PACs

Matt Katzenberger

Senate bill 335 would allow politicians to solicit unlimited money from corporations to donate to independent super PACS that support the politician.

The bill would expand on a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which held that spending by corporations was a form of free speech. That ruling allowed for private super PACS to take corporate money to support politicians. Senate bill 335 would go a step further and allow politicians to solicit corporations to donate money to super PACS

Craig Mauger is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, which looks at the ways money impacts state politics. He said under the 2010 decision, super PACS needed to be independent from politicians but this bill would muddy the water of what that independence means.

“It says that a lawmaker can personally solicit unlimited amounts of money to super PACS that can support them. That means a candidate could go out, have a fundraiser, and ask corporate donors to write an unlimited check to a PAC that they know will support them.”

Mauger said the bill also allows political campaigns and super PACs to share staff.

“The bill also says that candidates and super PACS can share common campaign vendors, like consultants or lawyers, so Super PACS would still be independent even though the Super PAC and the candidate, the Super PAC support, share common employees.”

Mauger said te problem is, under the bill, it doesn’t appear that the Super PAC would remain independent.

“Anyone who would look at that, and that’s the concern, would think ‘this is not really independent.’”

And Mauger said it makes it more difficult to track campaign donations to see what kind of impact they may have on how politicians vote.

Supporters of the bill could not be reached for comment.

The bill was reported favorably from committee and is pending on the senate floor.