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Thu January 21, 2010
Supreme Court overturns Michigan campaign spending law
By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network
LANSING, MI –
The U.S. Supreme Court has reversed a Michigan statute that outlaws corporate and union spending on political campaigns. Direct business and labor donations to candidates remain illegal. But unions and businesses may freely spend on their own political advertising.
Democratic Representative Kathy Angerer chairs the state House Elections and Ethics Committee.
"We are giving Wall Street banks, insurance companies, special interests more opportunities to influence elections, and elections should be about who is the best candidate for the job and not about corporations influencing elections," she says.
But the Michigan Campaign Finance Network says corporations are already slipping money into the elections process via issues education committees that don't have to disclose their donors. It says there was $50 million in untraceable independent spending in Michigan races in the past 10 years.
The Supreme Court says states may require corporations and unions to file reports disclosing their independent spending. That's already a federal law, but not a Michigan law.
The Supreme Court decision could also put an end to efforts to prosecute the Meijer retailing chain for making secret donations to a recall campaign in Acme Township near Traverse City.