Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Myth Of Campaign Donations

Why did they do it, the big spread in the Sunday paper with old news? Heck one paper had already gone back 21 years for their big exposé while another went back a decade.

Darn Detroit Free Press.

What will the demonizers of Matty Moroun do now? How can they fill up their columns with smears now? They might have to go out and do some actual reporting of the facts.

I must admit that the Free Press surprisingly had a new and different angle which will make some Moroun foes angry, probably helped along by Dan Stamper's letter to them and a paid ad in the paper.

The paper destroyed the myth of Matty Moroun buying and owning politicans to get his way.

  • "He doesn’t control the Legislature or Congress...

    Far from showing any direct connection between political contributions and support for Moroun...the Free Press review suggests the giving has had middling success."

What a disappointment. The best that can be said now is:

  • "Moroun and company aren’t Michigan’s biggest givers to politicians and causes.

    But their contributions are noteworthy."

Noteworthy! Give me a break. What kind of a word that is if one wants to vilify! It takes all the fun out of it.

In fact, oh the shame of it, Moroun is very much like others in the way he donates. He is not unique. How absolutely boring:

  • "Like many businesses and businesspeople, Moroun, majority owner of the Ambassador Bridge, hedges his political bets, giving to both parties, often tipping more to the party in power."

Frankly, he is in the minor leagues of political donations as I shall point out subsequently. Imagine, the newspaper had to go back 13 years to find out all of the money that he and others had spent so that the amount would exceed a million dollars. The Free Press also had the nerve to point out that others in the State are bigger contributors:

  • "As a whole, Moroun's contributions are far less than the millions of dollars provided by political powerhouses such as the GOP-supporting DeVos family of Grand Rapids or the Democratic-backing billionaire Jon Stryker of Kalamazoo."

All of these Republicans and Democrats who are supposedly in his back pocket these days strangely don't appear as recipients of his campaign funds. Could it possibly mean that they are people of principle and actually believe that the DRIC project and P3s as written in the P3 Bill may not be good for the State and taxpayers. Impossible, that cannot be can it?

  • "And some of Moroun's most loyal backers, such as state Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, and Rep. George Cushingberry, D-Detroit, haven't received a dime from Moroun and Co., but still they have argued passionately against the DRIC."

This comment in the Free Press story and what followed intrigued me. Was the Free Press trying to tell us something:

  • "Corporations across the country are known for giving with an expectation of support on key issues. A U.S. Supreme Court decision this year allows corporations to spend directly for candidates they support.

    Former Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard -- a Washington lobbyist and former recipient of Moroun campaign cash -- is a consultant for the DRIC. He and his wife, Janet, have given to Democrats for years, donating nearly $140,000 to federal campaigns and about $125,000 in Michigan (much of that to his own unsuccessful race for governor in 2002).

    Employees of the Corradino Group, consultants for the Michigan Department of Transportation on the DRIC, have given to campaigns around the country, though less than $20,000 in Michigan, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics."

Why was the Free Press so shy in doing a graphic of this giving. I did one and it showed the name of one recipient of their cash. You know his role in the P3 Bill don't you and his support for DRIC:

I am sorry to say that Matty is NOT good at the contributions game:

  • "Senate Republican Campaign Committee director, Matt Miner, said there's no quid pro quo.

    "He knows you don't ask for things when giving," said Miner"

  • "House Republicans balked at supporting the DRIC, which could give government too much power and end up costing taxpayers, he said -- not because of contributions."

  • "Asked whether a check from Moroun means more than from someone else, Bouchard's campaign manager, Ted Prill, said it's no more important than "the $5 check I'm looking at on my desk right now."

  • Getting politicians to commit can be tricky.

    "It just doesn't work that way,"

Let's be honest, Matty needs to learn from the superstar political contributors. He needs to take a look at what the Major league contributors do if he wants to get anywhere. Let's look at one example: Canada's Transport Minister John Baird.

He has a limitless supply of money to give out: taxpayer dollars. He has all kinds of people that he can draw upon to achieve his objectives: bureaucrats. He has access obviously to the most powerful person in Government in Canada, his boss the Prime Minister. His boss has access to powerful US Government figures like the US Presidents (Bush and Obama with whom he has discussed the DRIC bridge on several occasions) and the Governor of Michigan whose breath he took away.

Now he does not dare give money to any particular person. That would be very awkward and much too obvious. His alternative---he tries to influence the entire Legislature in one fell swoop by offering $550M in a riskless, no-brainer deal! A breath-taking action.

In the Free Press story about influencing politicians, there was this throwaway line about Baird's $550M offer:
  • "Finally, Stamper equated Canada's offer to loan cash-strapped Michigan the $550 million it needs for its half of the bridge to the "most unethical of all financial influence."

$550M and only one crummy paragraph compared with a full page story on Moroun respecting over a million dollars over 13 years. Now that is good stuff to keep the attention off of Baird!

Let's see, Matty's contributions equals about $140K per year. For the amount that Baird offered, it would take Matty just over 3900 years to match the Transport Canada Minister. That is about how long it would take Michigan to pay for the P3 DRIC bridge.

Minister Baird was honest at least about why the money was offered: to get the House to pass the P3 Bill and that it helped accomplish that. Can you imagine the outcry if Moroun gave money specifically to kill the Bill. His son said his lawyers told him he could NOT do that and that he never would!

But here is the real genius of a superstar contributor. He does not put up one single penny of the $550M although everyone thinks he does. It's like the person who announces a big pledge at a telethon to get the publicity but never honours it.

All this Canadian superstar does is send a two-page letter and a breathless Governor to tell Legislators to support the Bill and they fall over themselves to do so. Now that is style. That is grace.

If you read Baird's letter and listen to what he says, the money is really put up by a third party--the P3 Investor! Nothing is put up by Canada.

But that is a mere detail

The Free Press story is not going to change anyone's mind. I guess it was merely just a set-up for Monday's anti-Moroun, pro-DRIC Editorial.